The Boys & Girls Clubs of East County Foundation has recruited more than 30 La Mesa community leaders who have begun raising $4.45 million. That figure represents the remaining half of $8.9 million needed to build a new clubhouse in La Mesa, renovate an existing teen center in the city and fund an endowment to operate both facilities. About $4.5 million already has been raised, according to Jerry Fazio, Foundation executive director. He said the goal is to raise the remaining funds needed over the next two years.
The new clubhouse, to be called the Brady Family Clubhouse in recognition of a $3 million pledge from La Mesa residents Mary Alice and Ron Brady, will be located in Highwood Park on the west end of the La Mesa Middle School campus. The existing teen center, located on the same school campus, will be renamed the Brady Family Teen Center. When completed, officials said both facilities are expected to serve up to 400 children a day ages 5 to 18.
Dubbed the La Mesa Campaign Cabinet, the group of community leaders includes individuals from business, education, government and politics.
“We’ve been fairly low-key over the past year with our capital campaign fundraising efforts, but now we’re shifting gears and going public led by a fantastic team of cabinet members,” said Fazio.
Notable business members of the group include: Mike Hansen, general manager, Grossmont Center; Neal Reynolds, president, Reynolds Communities; Gary Clasen, owner, Continenal Catering; Vickie Whitmire, VP, Argent Bank; Bill Fischbeck, attorney, Fischbeck & Oberndorfer; Allen Brown, attorney, Stebleton & Brown; and, Jamie Dominquez, owner, Grossmont Escrow.
Elected officials include: Mark Arapostathis, La Mesa City Council; Priscilla Schreiber, Grossmont Union High School District trustee; and, Rick Winet and Bill Baber, both members of the La Mesa Spring Valley School District board.
Former elected officials include: Debbie McElravy, Grossmont Healthcare District board; Mary England, Lemon Grove City Council, now works as CEO of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce; and La Mesa City Council member Dave Allan.
La Mesa city officials include police chief Ed Aceves and city attorney Dave Witt.
Additional members include: LeRoy Knutson, retired La Mesa city attorney; Paul Botte, principal with Petix & Botte Financial Services; Philip Szold, retired pediatrician; and, Jerry Hollingsworth, retired and former chair of two previous capital campaigns benefiting Boys and Girls Clubs facilities in El Cajon and Santee.
Honorary chair of the group is NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton. The new Brady Family Clubhouse will have a gymnasium named after the La Mesa native and member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Hall of Fame. Chairman of the capital campaign is Steve South, president/CEO of EDCO Disposal.
At a recent breakfast meeting held at Continental Catering in La Mesa, South introduced cabinet members to a price list that included donation amounts for room dedication naming rights and memorial and donor wall recognition opportunities.
The list showed donations can range from $500 to become a “builder” on the donor wall to $300,000 to fund a game room or playground for younger club users. Your name on a an outdoor play structure will run $100,000, while $30,000 is being requested for either a check-in counter, set of outdoor bleachers or a director’s office. Sponsoring a blackboard or a scoreboard is $20,000, while purchasing office furnishings or equipment for the nurse’s station is $10,000.
“We’re appealing to everyone in the community, so they should be prepared to be contacted or I would hope they would not hesitate in approaching us,” said South. “This project is a game-changer for our community. It’s all about saving lives in real time.”
Receiving a standing ovation at the breakfast were Ron and Mary Alice Brady, founders of The Brady Companies, a La Mesa-based contractor.
“We’re doing this to impact young people because it’s better to build kids than try to mend adults,” said Ron. “We’re proud of the work of the Boys and Girls Clubs. They’re teaching kids the importance of personal responsibility and accountability for their own lives.”
Mary Alice said, “We are so very excited and grateful and proud to be part of this effort. We are very blessed for the opportunity to be part of the team.”
Also speaking at the breakfast was City Councilman Arapostathis, who also works as elementary school teacher, drama instructor at La Mesa Middle School and director of Peter Pan Jr. Theater and C. Hook Theater. “The new clubhouse will be a catalyst to help change the look of the entire western La Mesa area. When the doors open on the first day, the impact on our youth will be tremendous.”
At 25,000 square feet, the new Brady Family Clubhouse will be the largest of the six Boys and Girls Clubs of East County. Depending on fundraising results, construction is planned to begin in late 2015 or early 2016, with full operations scheduled for the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The clubhouse will feature a learning center called The Academy, a full-service kitchen and nutrition center and Little Rascals area for 5-to-7-year olds, plus a gymnasium.
The existing teen center, opened in October 2006, is a popular home-away-from-home for La Mesa’s 11-to-18 year olds. Plans call for the teen center to receive an exterior face lift and interior upgrades, including flooring and carpeting, new furniture, computers and a security system.
Since 1961, the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County have been meeting the developmental needs of children and youth. Its mission statement: “To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to become responsible, caring, productive citizens.”