Brookings Boys & Girls Over Capacity
by Ashley Kringen, Reporter
October 24, 2012 9:14 PM
Boys & Girls Clubs across South Dakota have seen a major growth in the youth population.
The club in Brookings will be celebrating their 10th birthday soon, and their one wish is to expand to keep up with the growing number of kids.
There are 1,400 registered kids at the Brookings location and the building can only hold 350 kids at one time, but on a daily basis the club serves nearly 400 kids per day.
"We built this facility six years ago and we never estimated that we'd be out of space so quickly," said Merhib.
The Executive Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs in Brookings, Flandreau and Yankton, Vanessa Merhib, said expansion is the only way to make a long-time solution to meet the community's needs.
"You start turning kids away and if you say we're full and can't fit any more kids, those could be the kids that you would have saved their life," said Merhib.
Due to lack of space, the club transformed the janitor room into a locker room for kids to store their stuff.
When the Brookings facility opened its doors nine years ago, they were serving 17 kids a day, now the club sees nearly 400 kids per day, which is over their capacity limit.
The club will break ground in May of 2013 and the cost will be $4 Million from a capital campaign, grants and personal donations.
"The operation for the Boys & Girls Club comes from a variety of sources. Our primary source has been the generosity of the Brookings community," said Merhib.
Apart from raising a majority of the money to operate, building while taking care of kids at the same time will be an even tougher obstacle.
"That will be our challenge this summer. How to have 400 kids and keep this building operating as well as utilize other spaces in the community," said Merhib.
With creative thinking and building in phases, Merhib said she believes the transition will go smoothly.
"We just feel really lucky to be in a community like Brookings and have the community be so supportive and care so much about its' youth," said Merhib.
A handful of businesses in the community have been donating their space to serve all the kids in need in Brookings and will continue to do so through the construction process.
The Flandreau Boys & Girls Club will break ground on their first stand alone building in May of 2013 as well.