Footprint of Tomah Boys & Girls Club to grow

The Tomah Boys & Girls Club will experience a growth spurt in 2021 - in terms of square footage.
A few months ago, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was presented to the Club, according to Rose Dobbs, marketing director for Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Wisconsin.
The neighbors of the Tomah B&G Club and longtime supporters Mubarek & Precour, S.C., shared they would be moving out of and selling the adjacent building at 917 Superior Ave. 
"Not only was this space going to be available, but with their generous donation through reduction of the sales price, securing the space would be even more attainable," Dobbs said. "Almost instantly the dreaming began and a vision was born."
With community support, the Club will purchase and renovate the building. The additional space allows the club to:
• Expand the “footprint” of available program space. This includes relocating administrative offices and renovating current office space to allow for more program space in the Main Clubhouse;
• Enhance its teen programming by consolidating its Teen Center, currently located at 1102 Superior Ave., into the same building, also reducing safety and logistical challenges.
• Empower more Tomah youth to become tomorrow’s leaders and enhance our community.
"With a new year beginning, the club will work with the community to ensure that it is serving even more youth for 20 more years to come," Dobbs said. 
The Tomah B&G Club was founded in September, 2000. The Club received a generous discount on the building purchase, formerly the Tomah Clinic, from Jean and Dr. Jameel Mubarak.
The announcement is welcome news coming out of 2020 when the Club recognized its 20th year of programming for Tomah youth. But plans changed with the onset of Covid-19 restrictions last March.
"Heading into 2020, Boys & Girls Clubs of West-Central Wisconsin — Tomah Club was excited to spend the year celebrating its 20th year anniversary," Dobbs said. "Each day, for 20 years, hundreds of club members, grades 1-12, flooded through the doors to learn, grow and give back to the community through programs that focus on academic success, healthy habits and lifestyles, and good character and citizenship. With so much to celebrate, the club would never have guessed that in a few short months, the entire world would be facing a global pandemic that changed everything."
On March 15, the club made the announcement it would follow area school districts and ceased in-person services. 
"The club could never have imagined the journey that would follow and the opportunities that would arise from enduring such difficult times," Dobbs said.
Within days of temporarily closure staff used innovation and the tools of social media to introduce Club @ Home programming posting an activity to their Facebook pages several times a day. Hearing from families that they needed more resources and supplies, the club kicked off Club on the Go. Families were invited to stop by the club to grab Club on the Go kits during certain times each week.
The Club knew that food access was a huge concern for many families. The Tomah Club site served 12,837 snacks and meals in 2019, including an evening meal each day. Working closely with the school district and other organizations, the club determined that it could help get evening meals to some of the children most in need in the area. 
Starting April 20, a nutritious, hot take-home meal and snack was provided in a pre-packaged container, each weekday for any child 18 and younger.
As summer approached, the club knew it was not a question of “if” it would re-open, but it was more a question of “when and how.” 
"Utilizing guidance from area health experts, the club outlined what would become the new normal for club operations," Dobbs said. "On Aug. 20, the club completed a successful 10-week summer program with zero incidents of COVID-19 within its staff or attendees."
The club utilized the success of the summer program to carry into the fall. Club leadership worked closely with the school district to create various plans for service delivery models that would complement hybrid models of face-to-face and virtual instruction.

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