• Independence Boys & Girls Club gets facelift – inside

  • From the outside – and just for now – the Boys & Girls Clubs Leslie Unit in Independence looks like the same ol’ building.

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  • From the outside – and just for now – the Boys & Girls Clubs Leslie Unit in Independence looks like the same ol’ building.
    But the inside of the structure at 315 Leslie Ave. is a completely different story. The facility also has a new name as the Independence Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs.
    Thanks to the All-Star Game coming to town, Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals contributed more than $3.5 million toward the All-Star-themed legacy initiatives and projects in greater Kansas City, which included the renovations at the Independence Unit.
    The renovations to date were privately unveiled last Saturday, and the public will get a chance to view the transformation sometime in mid-August.
    Phase II of the project, planned for the future, will include a Teen Center addition, as well as revamping the exterior graphics on the actual building.
    Tyrone Moore, area director for the two Boys & Girls Clubs units in Eastern Jackson County, walked The Examiner through the work-in-progress on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the club members are housed at the Hawthorne Unit.
    When you walk through this building, how does it make you feel?
    It’s a transformation. Our strategic plan is called “Dreams to Reality,” and I think, really, with the building and the programming and all of the opportunities that we’re trying to give to the kids, that is how we make dreams become a reality.
    How do you think this will allow for better use of the existing space and for programs here at the club?
    Let me start by saying, one, what JE Dunn (Construction Company, the project’s lead contractor) did in here helps us to be up to code. There were a lot of things like bathrooms and fire alarms and sprinklers that we have now, and we didn’t before. It’s a safer facility, as well.
    Before, we had an open concept. Now, we have individual rooms where you can do programming and not be disturbed by another group.
    How do you think the kids are going to react when they see this?
    We had about 25 to 30 kids here (last Saturday), and it was, “Whoa! Cool! This is better than ever!” So, we know that they like it and are very impressed.
    Do you hope that the transformation will result in a higher membership? (About 125 members, ages 5 through 18, now belong to the Independence Unit.) More members, more community support, volunteers, other organizations that may want to come in and volunteer their time – or give to the club. It’s always great to have people who want to give monetarily.
    I know that renovations and remodeling took place in the spring of 2010 with the Community of Christ World Conference. Was all of that work lost? Are you glad that that work was done?
    Page 2 of 2 - Yes. We needed that, though, especially with where we were at that time – they took us to another level. They did a lot of aesthetics, but we still couldn’t be licensed and still couldn’t pass fire inspections and things like that. What JE Dunn has come in and done has been remarkable. We know that all of that stuff is up to par. It’s a much safer facility.

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