New Boys & Girls Club Branch Opens in Northeast Salem
SALEM- The Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion, and Polk counties opened up their newest location with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 28.
The new location will help an underserved area of Northeast Salem off Lancaster Drive and will be named the Epping Homestead Branch (3805 Lancaster Dr. NE, Salem).
This will be the eighth Boys & Girls Club branch in the Salem area and the first within this area of Salem. The location will be serving an area that includes 3,700 school-age children within a one-mile radius of the branch.
The club’s CEO, Sue Bloom, helped identify a need to better serve children in the area and where there were gaps in funding.
“The club had a need assessment to take a look where after-school programs at the club, where they were and where they weren’t,” Bloom said. “We had indicators of need, high risk populations, free lunch, crime rates, and underperforming schools. Over 95% of those children (near the Homestead Branch) were living below the poverty line and less than 30% were meeting requirements of math, writing, etc.”
The branch expects to serve over 200 children from first grade through senior year of high school in the 26,000-square-foot facility.
“We built it as a welcoming space, for our community groups to use our gym and field space,” Bloom said. “We work in academic success, character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. They all spin-off of those three areas. We also have a team workforce development program. Our endgame is to work in these core areas and to provide our children in every age level to learn and grow and give them the opportunity to explore the areas they wouldn’t have been able to grow.”
The three-acre property was donated to the Boys & Girls Club by the Larry and Jeanette Epping Family Foundation.
Larry was a local real estate developer in the Salem area and together with his wife, raised five children at the location of the branch.
“This is where the kids grew up and where they had a safe and supportive home and wanted to give the kids in this neighborhood the opportunity to learn, grow and have the best version of themselves,” Bloom said. “We’ve been working with their children through the foundation to make this building a reality.”
In order to have the building become a reality, The Boys & Girls Club have been in a 16 million capital fundraising campaign. Nine million went toward building and filling the building, two million is to ensure we have five years of operation in the space, and the final five million is for an endowment to provide sustainability for all of the Boys and Girls Club in the Salem area.
They have raised most of the money and have around $280,000 left to fundraise.
Children don’t need to do anything special to be eligible and families can visit their website (https://bgc-salem.org/) to register a kid and become a member of the club.
“It’s been incredible, and we feel very grateful and humble having the community come behind us,” Bloom said. “There are several significant philanthropists the community has come out and helped. That is important to that neighborhood and those children. Excited about the partnerships.”