One of Wilmington’s Boys and Girls Clubs is getting several upgrades.
The H. Fletcher Brown club now has a new HVAC system, new pool floor and a new gym floor – made possible by funding allocated from the state and city of Wilmington.
In December 2015, the HVAC system was stolen from the roof of the Fletcher Brown Boys and Girls Club.
“And they just got up there and tore all the copper and other possible scrap metal pieces, so that was a major issue," said John Wellons, President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.
Wellons says the state pitched in to replace the system through the Community Reinvestment Fund - and helped renovate the gym floor that’s been is use for 25-30 years.
But the HVAC system doesn’t extend to the center’s basement, where the gym and teen center are located. The club’s director Danielle Benson says the teen room – used to work with teens ages 13-20 during weekday evenings - gets very toasty.
$95,000 in CDBG dollars from the city of Wilmington are funding air conditioning for the teen room – which Benson says is needed - especially during the summer.
“Our kids really love athletics – that’s kind of our carrot to pull them in," Benson said. "Then once we have them, then we’re working on the financial literacy, working on building healthy relationships, working on building self-esteem…”
The CDBG funds are also paying for other improvements, including resurfacing the center’s pool floor, replacing showerheads and more.
Wellons said there’s some funding left over that will be used for outdoor lighting, which hasn’t been installed in a long time.
“There’ve been bits and pieces here and there but it’s been a good number of years," Wellons said. "And with this location, better lighting outside would definitely be more of a deterrent to some of the things that happen from time to time.”
Wellons says there’s the occasional car that’s broken into, which he hopes the outdoor lights will help prevent.
Wilmington Council President Hanifa Shabazz says the upgrades will help the center serve as a safe haven and offer positive youth programming for area children and families.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware CEO George Krupanski says that of the total $18.5 million budget for clubs across the state, the H. Fletcher facility makes up about $1 million of that.
"It's a much larger facility than our other facilities, it has many more kids, and there's some real needs here," Krupanski said.
Krupaksi says H. Fletcher Brown Boys & Girls Club is just one of only six centers across the state that has a pool.