On Wednesday morning, a group of Milwaukee community leaders gathered to celebrate the re-opening of the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club, 3000 N. Sherman Blvd., in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
Long overdue for renovations, the 25-year-old club building closed at the end of the summer programming last August, to undergo a variety of changes and upgrades. The Mary Ryan Club reopened on Feb. 20.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee serves more than 43,000 children and teens every year with its summer and after-school programs at 44 locations. Included in this programming are free meals, academic support, mentoring and other offerings.
More than 86 percent of the Clubs’ annual budget directly supports youth programming.
The Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club is a community hub, partnering with Public Allies, Hunger Task Force, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Public Schools, Boy Scouts, Safe & Sound, Milwaukee Tennis Education Foundation, Crime Victim’s Rights Resource Fair and Walk, United Way, Sherman Park Community Garden Program, WNOV-FM, Just Listen and other groups. It also serves as a neighborhood polling location.
Thanks to financial and in-kind contributions from Milwaukee County, Lowe's Companies, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Northwestern Mutual, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Grainger and VJS Construction, renovations touched every room of the 57,000-square foot building, which serves kids from 5 through 18 years old.
The entire center was repainted and got new flooring, carpeting, furniture and ceiling tiles, and more natural light sources were opened up. Butter Fetting added a new HVAC system and Lowe’s added a mural.
There a new and bigger computer lab with new furniture and computers, and a renovated game room includes new pool, foosball, ping pong and air hockey tables, as well as pop-a-shot basketball games.
A new career development area includes a teen job center to help 16-24-year-olds find work.
The work required 418 gallons of paint, 3,590 square feet of carpet, 13,460 square feet of rubber flooring, more than 200 new furniture pieces and more than 1,200 new light bulbs.
Some of the most exciting news, however, was that Milwaukee’s HGA Architects has designed a new teen center for the club. The space is expected to include a music recording studio, computers, and areas for study, socializing and collaborative work.
The club hopes to open the teen center by the end of the year and is using another room (pictured just above) as a temporary teen area until the work is complete.
Here are three renderings of the new space:
The club already has age-specific spaces for 5-6-year olds, 7-8-year-olds and 9-12-year-olds.
Slated to be on hand at the grand re-opening this morning were Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, County Executive Chris Abele, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee President and CEO Vincent Lyles, Mary Ryan club manager Marco Morrison and Tamarra Lee, the mother of a Ryan club member.
The public will get a chance to peek at the changes at an open house slated for Saturday, April 15 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Milwaukee Police Department will also host an Easter egg hunt that day.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.