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Boys & Girls Club director brings positive change

October 1, 2018

LYNN, Mass. (AP) — Three months after Brian Theirrien’s first day on the job, renovations to the city’s Boys & Girls Club are well underway.

A sparkling gymnasium, a fresh paint job, and updated bathrooms are a few of many transformations happening throughout one of Lynn’s oldest after-school programs. Theirrien, the club’s newest executive director, jumped right into his position and had sponsors pouncing at the opportunity to donate and be a part of the new Boys & Girls Club of Lynn.

The club’s building, at 25 North Common St., was originally built in 1923 and later donated to the Boys & Girls Club in 1932.

“There are a lot of great people that feel like this club is an important place,” said Theirrien.

There has already been almost $2.7 million raised in donations and the club is working with the state to acquire a New Market Tax Credit (NMTC), which is designed to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing a modest tax incentive to private investors.

The new gymnasium was sponsored by the family and friends of the late George Comenos, which is why his name is embedded into the shiny new floors. Theirrien said Nick Meninno, of Meninno Construction, donated his company’s time and equipment to paint the gym and complete its ceiling work.

Donors have also helped step up the building’s technological abilities. The executive director said The Conway Foundation donated $5,000 to heighten the building’s internet services, install Khan Academy, the reading and arithmetic online video tool, into all the computers, and provide the learning centers with a slew of Kindle Fire tablets for the kids to read on. New laptops for the club’s teen center will also make their way into the club fairly soon.

The club’s major renovations will be rolled out in a two-phase capital campaign and worked on during the next two summers, with the help of donors and local foundations. With the kids attending summer camp at Creighton Pond in Middleton, the renovations will be worked on and the young members will not have to worry about being displaced, said Theirrien.

“We just want to make it really nice for the children to be here for the time being,” he said.

Theirrien said the way the building was constructed was unorthodox, as in the multiple floors seemed to have been built upon the existing framework over the years.

The first phase of renovations, well underway, will take care of all three floors of the main clubhouse, which is considered to be the front of the building. The gym, updated bathrooms, increased technology, heightened light fixtures, and fresh wall paint are just the beginning steps of the first phase. The majority of phase one will be getting the century old building up to date and Theirrien said he hopes to start right after Memorial Day and finish by October 1, 2019.

Phase two, potentially taking place during the summer of 2020, will be a much bigger project that takes care of the back portion of the building, where the pool begins and the gym ends.

“We’ve been working with a number of foundations,” he said. “They’re really excited about it and pretty much said if we get phase one done, they will take care of phase two.”

Theirrien said dropping the Olympic-sized pool down a floor and placing a technology center where it currently is, turning the basement bowling alley, which most people don’t know exists, into the new teen center, and placing a full kitchen on the third floor that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the kids, are among the renovation plans.

“We want to do it in two phases because the building is pretty outdated and old, so we don’t know what we’re going to end up getting into once we start,” he said.

Aside from donors seeking participation in the club’s transformation, Theirrien said some are reaching out to help with the after-school program’s $1.2 million budget, which covers staffing, heat, oil, and running the organization. The Amelia Peabody Foundation made a general donation of somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000 to help with their budget and almost $27,000 to improve the bathrooms and showers at the club’s Camp Creighton.

The foundation has also verbally committed to a challenge grant of $40,000 for the Oct. 23 Hall of Fame dinner at the Tedesco Country Club. Theirrien said whatever is raised during the event, the Amelia Peabody Foundation will match it, dollar for dollar.

“Our staff is doing great and the kids have been really responding to and respecting the upgrades, so it’s a win-win,” he said. “The board has been very supportive of everything and they’re all hands on deck.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2QlTPFe

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Information from: The (Lynn, Mass.) Daily Item, http://itemlive.com

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