Boys and Girls Club closure could prove devastating for neighbor - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Boys and Girls Club closure could prove devastating for neighborhood

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The Boys and Girls Club in the Kayton/Frazier Homes Public Housing has been an uplifting force in the community for many years.

Now, it's abruptly shutting down.

People in the neighborhood call it the gym, and it's stood in the community for 20 years.

The building is owned by Savannah's Housing Authority, and the Boys and Girls Club moved in seven years ago, and no one wants to see them go.

"Without this here, we wouldn't know what to do with our children," said Bernice Judson.

In two days, the club will close its doors indefinitely. Hot meals from Second Harvest will stop, and so will SCAD's art classes, Armstrong's cheerleading classes and Sankofa Youth's basketball league.

"It's really going to be devastating," said Clinton Taylor of Sankofa Youth Organization.

"They depend on that gym, for years," said parent Peter Judson. "I'm a resident out here for 15 years, and I know that gym is very important to the children."

The problem? A leaky roof.

Neither the Housing Authority nor the Boys and Girls Club knew how bad it was until heavy rains two weeks ago flooded the gym.

"It's the rainy season," said Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Vincent Delmonte. "You know, that's when you find out these things. I mean, the winter could've taken its toll on it, mother nature and time."

The wet floor is a liability. With one week's notice, the gym had to close, right before schools are set to let out for the summer.

"They say an idle mind is the devil's playground, and the children do not need to be just out here wandering around," said Bernice Judson.

The club serves more than 50 children a day and dues are just $2 for the whole year.

"It's going to devastate my kids," said parent and volunteer Ralph Taylor.

"Parents rely on the Boys and Girls Club in this community," said Bernice Judson. "Some have to work."

Children will be able to attend a 10-week summer camp across town at the Boys and Girls Club on Charlton Street, but that camp costs $150, a price out of reach for many families in public housing.

"I'm really hoping that something is done," said Bernice Judson. "Look at these children. That's their place to go. That's their place to learn and have fun and interact with other kids their age."

Some of these residents are hoping local businesses will pitch in to fix the roof, but Delmonte doesn't know if his organization can take donations to renovate a building they don't own.

WTOC reached out to the Housing Authority for a comment, but it hasn't responded back yet.

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