Boys and Girls Club announce $7.3 million expansion, capital campaign

Club has raised $4.2 million from private donors

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse has announced a major expansion project to its northside club.

Construction has already begun on the $7.3 million project, and the club has raised a little more than half of that. It’s turning to the public to help to raise the remaining funds.

The “Building Great Futures” campaign will improve the look and programming available to members at the Erickson Boys and Girls Club on La Crosse’s northside, while also allowing more teens to become enrolled at the club.

Board members believe the renovation will improve things beyond the walls of the club.

The Erickson Boys and Girls Club was built in 1985, and Executive Director Mike Desmond said it was not built to meet the needs of today’s youth.

“There’s no doubt, the history of this club it was built on athletics. Kids came here to play basketball, to play football, to play baseball and softball and so forth, but we’re so much more than that now,” Desmond said.

The club is now completely gutted, and construction crews are remodeling the inside and preparing for a 7,500 square-foot addition.

Over the last five years, the club has seen a 41 percent increase in the number of teens attending the Erickson Club, and Desmond said many of them live in poverty. He said the extra space will provide those kids with somewhere safe to just be a teenager.

“To have their own space is just absolutely going to change the face of our organization, but I think just change the face of the northside of La Crosse as well,” Desmond said.

The new Erickson club will have a dance studio, music room, career center, and gymnasium. It will also be moving its entry way to face Logan High School.

“It’s going to have a whole different look to it. I think the community is going to be very supportive and very surprised when we’re done at how nice it is,” BGC board member and co-chair of capital campaign Pat Stephens said.

The Boys and Girls Club has raised $4.2 million through private donors and is beginning its capital campaign, asking the community for help raising the final $3 million.

Desmond said he is confident the residents of La Crosse will continue their support of the club.

“To start a project of this magnitude and not have all the dollars raised yet shows a great deal of confidence by our board of directors in the generosity of the people,” Desmond said.

Right before Friday’s press conference, Desmond received a phone call from an anonymous donor, saying they would match all community donations up to $1 million. Desmond said hopefully now, people will donate, knowing their donation will be doubled.

While the Erickson club is under construction, the Boys and Girls Club will be using the former Roosevelt Elementary School, Logan Middle School and Northside Elementary for programming.

Construction is expected to be done by the end of August.

To donate or find out more information, call the Boys and Girls club at 608-784-3735 or email at mike.desmond@bgcgl.org