Boys and Girls Club makes a move
The former physical therapy wing at the old hospital has gone from a place of recovery to a space for discovery.
As of Wednesday, it's the new home of the Boys and Girls Club of the Perham Area.
The club, which is less than a year old, had already outgrown its previous home in the basement of Calvary Lutheran Church - a location that was never intended to be permanent.
The new space is just a bit larger than the areas the kids had access to in the church (when including the fellowship hall and kitchen), but this is all theirs, all the time, and it's laid out in a way that works well for the program.
There's a large art area, specially designed bathrooms that allow for some supervision, a big game room that can convert into an indoor playground when the weather's bad, a computer lab, coat rooms, a front desk and waiting area, kitchenette, comfortable lounge, reading nooks, more storage space and homework rooms.
Large windows let in lots of sunshine, and there's an off-street parking area where kids can get safely picked up and dropped off.
"It'll be a little different than what we're used to, but it'll be good," said Cori Brown, director of the Perham club. "I think once people see our new space and the word gets out, we'll grow even bigger."
Already more than triple its original size, the club serves anywhere from 35 to 50 kids on a typical day, depending on the time of year. In all, 149 kids are registered.
With the new location will come some new social opportunities for the kids. Brown said the club, now that it's so close to Perham Living, will be participating in more activities with Perham Living residents, such as playing bingo and other games.
Making the move was no small chore. Plans and preparations for finding a site began months ago, and once the location was selected, the space needed to be renovated and redecorated.
Along the way, plans evolved to allow the club some extra room to grow. The club's advisory council realized the program was growing rapidly, and that the growth would likely continue, so they decided to lease more space than they originally signed up for.
By the time the actual move came along, Brown said, the "overwhelming" parts were mostly over.
"I'm exhausted, but pumped," she said last Friday as a large truck full of games, toys and learning tools pulled up to the door of the new location. "And the kids are really excited, too."
About a dozen volunteers were on hand that day to load and unload that first truck, vacuum the floors and help out in any other ways they could. Many of the bigger items were yet to be moved or shipped over the following few days. Brown said most of the work would be finished over the weekend, with more help from volunteers.
"Perham is a really good place," Brown said of the community support the club has received. The people at Calvary, she added, have been especially generous: "It's been a really good partnership with Calvary. We're going to miss them."
The church and community have helped the club out financially, as well. Brown said donations have come in from many individuals and organizations to help cover the cost of the move and any new items needed like tables, chairs and kitchen supplies.
The club will host an open house for the public on May 9 from noon-7 p.m. The event is being held in conjunction with the city's annual bike rodeo, taking place from after school to 5 p.m.
"But, I'm so proud of this, that if people want to come and stop over before then, I'll be happy to show them around," said Brown.
Summer registration for the Boys and Girls Club will be held on Tuesday, April 17 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Perham Area will be having a spring fling fundraiser at Spanky's Stone Hearth on Thursday, April 19. Dinner and dueling piano entertainment included. Proceeds will help fund summer scholarships for the club. Call 346-2526 for tickets.