This article originally appeared in the Friday Nov. 22, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
The Boys & Girls Club of Mission at Bannworth Park has become a full service unit.
Last Thurs. Nov. 14, the city of Mission held a ribbon cutting for the expansion of the building at Bannworth Park, located at 1822 N. Shary Rd. The expansion includes office space, restrooms and four new classrooms.
The 4,050 square foot addition of the classrooms will also include a computer lab for students to utilize in the after school program. According to a press release from the city, the unit will continue to service elementary and middle schools in the Sharyland area in order to provide more accessibility to the Boys & Girls Club of Mission.
Mayor Armando O’caña dubbed this expansion “The Corey Project” after being asked by a fifth grade student attending a Sharyland ISD school why the Bannworth Location didn’t have a place for him to do homework and other schoolwork.
“His dream has been converted into a reality,” O’caña said. “When we listen to the children, and take the issues that they bring forth – even if its in a question form – we can convert it into a goal and make it a reality.”
O’caña added that Mission aims to build an additional Boys & Girls Club facility somewhere in the West side of the city. J.J. Guerrero, the new director of the Boys & Girls Club of Mission, was excited for the kids to have access to the expanded location.
“I’m excited to reach into the Sharyland part of Mission and be able to provide a facility to reach more children so they can have access to this wonderful club,” Guerrero said. “I want to challenge each person in the community to help out and ensure that our children have a great future – they are the future of our community and beyond our community.”
The expansion projects cost about $500,000 in total. City Manager Randy Perez, a product of the Boys & Girls Club of Mission himself, was glad to see the space with new features.
“We look forward to moments like this to not only provide better service to our community, but also to our children,” Perez said. “This is definitely a major improvement for us – we currently serve about 5,000 children, and this facility is going to impact additional children not only in this area, but the facilities where we reach capacity.”
Perez spoke about the mission of the Boy & Girls Club of America: to enable young people, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as citizens and members of the community.
“That’s exactly our mission here,” Perez said. “The most important thing is the impact the children are going to have here in this facility. We’re very proud of that.”
Albert Pena, the chairman of the Boys & Girls Club Youth Advocacy Advisory Board, noted that this expansion was necessary for the children in Mission. Prior to the creation of the classrooms at the Bannworth site, the gymnasium was the only open space where the students could get homework done.
“When the kids would come here for our summer programs, they were put in groups in the corners [of the gym], and there were no tables or chairs for them to do their projects and activities,” Pena said. “That kind of set the fire going [on the board] to get this project done. I’m very proud of it, and working with the board we shared the same vision. It’s exciting to provide this type of facility in our community.”
Pena noted that while the Bannworth facility was on the East side of Mission, there are no boundaries and they welcome all children.
Fay Beard, the director of Programs Development for the Boys & Girls Club of America, said it was important for the community to be involved in making these facilities a success.
“The investment that you have made is to change lives, to offer hope and opportunity to children who may not have it,” Beard said. “There is so much Boys & Girls Club DNA in this room – people who have been touched by the Boys & Girls Club in their lives. You have the opportunity to change the lives of future children in this community.”
Following the ribbon cutting, city leaders and attendees of the event were taken on tours of the space led by staff of the Boys & Girls Club of Mission.