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New facility is open for business

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As of today, young people in Napa have a new recreational facility to call their own.Monday morning marked an end of an era, and the beginning of a new day when The Boys and Girls Club of Napa opened its doors for service at their new facility at 1515 Pueblo Ave.Youth and patience don't often go hand in hand, but for the past decade Napa youth have been asked to be just that and more. No one is more aware of this situation than Executive Director Cindy Goodale. She has been on the job filling staff positions, overseeing the final stages of construction and waiting patiently like the young people the club will serve. Goodale said the Pueblo Avenue location will expand the service capabilities to include a much larger cross-section of youth in the area."At the old club we accommodated 150 to 200 members a day," Goodale said. "We're hoping to increase our numbers to as many as 500 kids a day when the new club gets into full operation later this summer. With the new addition of the inside basketball court, open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., we expect an increase in the number of kids from that recreation activity alone."Goodale has high hopes for the new teen center located in the basement of the new club as well. She is the first to admit Napa teenagers in the past were under-served, due to the limitations of the old First Street club."In the old club, the teen center saw little activity due to space restrictions. Traditionally, the Boys and Girls Club has had little trouble attracting the younger members. Our plans for the future will be to focus on recruiting teenage club members. The entire basement area will be dedicated to providing a gathering place where area teens can congregate in a safe, secure and fun environment," Goodale said. The staff and Goodale have learned from the problems of attracting teens in the past and hope to use the knowledge to attract more of their number in days to come."Teens want their needs and desires responded to in a positive manner. They want their activities separated from the younger club members, and they want a teen center that is really cool and not just a holding space," she said.With these goals in mind, Goodale created a special staff position to assess the needs of teens who weren't involved in the club at the old location. The club plans to reach out to let teens know they are welcome and with the opening of the new facility, there will be many activities, like the teen center, catering to their needs.Silverado Middle School student, Kyle Favorite, 13, was on hand when the doors opened for the new teen center. Favorite, who says he attends everyday the club is open, thinks the new center is far better than the old one."I like it here. It's pretty cool. On a scale of one to 10 it's 10 times better," Favorite said.Jainey Warden, 13, attends Redwood Middle School and has been a member of the old club for the past three years. She agrees with Favorite about the new club's appeal to teens."There's so much more to do here. The old club was small and boring," Warden said.The visionThe club's goal is not to take the place of a baby-sitter for parents but to play a dynamic role in the lives of all the youth of Napa, especially teenagers, Goodale said."For some kids who come to the club, we are their only support system. That's why the staff and kids need a one-on-one relationship. We often become the only anchor in their lives," she said.Still, Goodale knows she and her staff have obstacles to overcome. To be a creative influence in the lives of the young people, staff will urge members to come to the club as often as possible. Consistent attendance at club activities is a big issue with the staff. When members come often, optimally on a daily basis, a sense of community among the young people is created, Goodale said. Setting and accomplishing goals will be stressed as teens become more involved in the club.Luther Dupree said he grew up in a Boys and Girls Club and was a member of the old club when he attended high school. He was recently added to the staff after finishing college as a counselor for students, and will run the "Still I Rise Teen Program" that will focus on helping youth who need guidance in their lives. Dupree sees the new facility becoming a positive force for all of the youth in the area."This new building will allow us to run more efficient programs. The gym alone will account for the majority of our members participation. We want kids to know, however, that we aren't just for recreation," Dupree said.In a walk through of the facility, Goodale showed off the layout. The first floor entry features an electronic check-in counter, and an arts and craft center with a working kiln for firing pottery and ample space for art demonstrations and projects. The club's library and counselors' office are adjacent to the central game room that occupies a considerable portion of the first floor. A multi-purpose recreational/study area will double as a learning center and overflow for functions in the club.The back half of the club will undoubtedly be the main attraction for many of the members — the gym and a state-of-the-art kitchen with stove, griddle and refrigeration units stand ready to serve afternoon snacks.The teen center will occupy much of the lower floor with a large screen TV, pool tables, couches, tables and chairs and a small kitchenette where staff will prepare nachos, hot-dogs, popcorn and sell soft drinks. Dances and parties are planned on a regular basis.A workout and shadow boxing ring, equipped with weights and exercise machines, occupies the back part of the basement. Adjacent to both areas, a newly installed Career Planning and Placement center will help students to plan for their future with help from professional counselors and guidance personnel.Five-year member, eighth grader Stephanie Stevenson, 13, summed up the general feeling of the first wave of members on hand Friday morning."It's soooo cool. It's like really cool," Stevenson said as she stood in the teen center. Her sentiments seemed to be shared by everyone present from staff to the youngest member.Area parents and youth are invited to visit the new club.Summer hours for kids grades one through seven will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Sunshine program is by reservation only and will meet 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Club 1515 Teen Center's summer hours for teens in grades 8-12 will be 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, extended until midnight on Fridays.For information on programs, membership requirements, adult volunteer opportunities or answers to other questions, call 707 255-8866.Gary Brady-Herndon can be reached at 256-2219 or at gherndon@napanews.com

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