At 9-years-old, Myquael McLane was homeless, living on the streets in Richmond’s East End. A child of drug addicts, he was hanging out with the wrong crowd and selling drugs by the age of 11. “I had nobody, no guidance. I came to the Club for summer programs, that’s what kept me out of trouble.” His friends stopped going to the Club, but Myquael showed up daily. “We were living the same lifestyle, but I kept coming to the Club. My friends were dying left and right. If I’d stopped coming, I would have ended up in a casket just like those guys. The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club was one of the best points of my life.” As The Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Club prepares for a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, May 9 at 11:30am on the renovation and addition to the 47-year-old facility, stories like Myquael’s are valuable to draw upon when considering the short-term hardship that comes from displacing present day members and programming to Franklin Military Academy for the duration of the school year or under-taking a $6.8 million fundraising campaign. “With what’s going happen at the renovated Club, we’ll be able to impact more youth, more often and provide more outcomes like Myquael’s,” said Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Hugh Jones. “What’s going to happen at the Club in the next year and beyond, will really engage youth and the community around creating great futures.” Even currently within the walls of the R Street facility, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has the only indoor poor in Richmond’s East End, and with the pool upgrade, it will 1) be accessible year-round rather than exclusively in the summer, and 2) offer community programming at times when youth are not participating in after-school activities. Part of the $6.8 million renovation and addition, of which $2.2 million is left to be raised, will be the addition of nearly 10,000 square feet, which will accommodate some of the modest displacement from the installation of an elevator but also create new program space for after-school and community activities. Expansion of the Teen Center, arguably the most valuable segment of members for whom programs and services assist with college tours and leadership programming, activities will expand to include career readiness and technology resources. “There are dozens of other organizations in Richmond’s East End doing great work to support these children,” says Captain Donald Dohmann of The Salvation Army. “We need to do our part. We’re not all going to serve every child in the East End every day but if we can offer valuable & relevant programs and activities, then among us all we can provide holistic programs for the entire family.” Today, Myquael is an honor student at Virginia Union University and a member of the Army Reserves. He was recently named one of the Top 25 Leaders on Campus and credits The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club for saving his life. “I knew there were people there who would help me and change my life. Now, I volunteer at the Club because I know there’s a kid out there that’s just like me.” The renovation and addition project is currently underway and expected to be completed in late 2018.
From The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club: