The doors of the new Boys and Girls Club at 310 S. Main Street in Tooele were opened Saturday, Sept. 9 after a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The new club accommodates around 300 kids, ages five to 18 in the three-level building.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 10 a.m. in front of the main doors of the club. In attendance were community members, city and county officials, club staff and alumni, children who attend the club, and officials from the Boys and Girls Club organization, accounting for over 150 people.
During the event, Amanda Hughes, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake addressed those in attendance.
“We could not be prouder and more excited to be here with you today to celebrate this truly historical and monumental moment in not only our history as the Boys and Girls Club, but for Tooele City and Tooele County,” Hughes said.
Alicia Garcia, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake board chair talked about the excitement surrounding the new club.
“We are so excited for this monumental achievement in an area that truly, truly makes such an impact on our community,” she said. “To see what’s been achieved in the last year for the kids in our community and everyone that had to come together to make this happen … is absolutely amazing. This is the beginning of a new era in Tooele and we are so excited.”
Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn spoke to the audience about the new construction.
“This building is about service,” Winn said. “It is about the people who made this happen. A building is wonderful and it will add so much, but what it comes down to are the leaders who made this happen and for all of you boys and girls who will be participating in this building.”
Steve Ratto, a representative from Boys and Girls Clubs of America made the drive to Tooele to visit the new club.
“This never gets old, ever,” he said. “Being able to come to Tooele for a brand-new facility and knowing what it’s taken to get here is so special and you should all feel very good about that.”
Darlene Dixon, has been the Tooele Boys and Girls Club director for over 30 years. She has been waiting for a new location for the club for many years.
“Amazing, spectacular, stupendous – these are the words we tell our kids every time they walk through our doors,” Dixon said during the ceremony. “These are the words that explain the amazing experiences and the incredible programs that our kids get to experience — the fun, safe, educational programs we get to offer every single day to our kids. These are words I have also heard to describe this building.”
Tooele club youth of the year, Jasmine spoke during the ceremony.
“I am so excited for new opportunities and new experiences to come through this new club,” she said.
After the ceremony and ribbon cutting, attendees were given tours of the new location.
Construction finished last week on the 7,883 square-foot building. The building has three levels and includes a gym with a basketball court; a game room with video games, Pac Man, foosball, and Connect Four; an all-gender restroom, a dance room, a quiet room, and a computer lab.
There is also a stem art room, a kitchen area, and an outside fenced off area for kids to play when it is warm outside.
In the teen and tween area downstairs there is a virtual reality set and a lounging area with lights.
Free mental health care and therapy by “Whole Kids” will be provided at the location for kids who need it during club hours and for the community after hours. The therapy program isn’t quite complete but should be soon.
The new club will allow kids to better receive homework help and tutoring, have room to play sports and express themselves, and let their creativity flow.
“Now that we have a permanent location, we can do bigger projects,” Emma Pickins, design and communications coordinator at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake said. “We have access to water and electricity for our stem and art room so the kids can do more interactive and long-term projects. This is a safe building for them to come to.”
The renovations were made to an existing building that used to serve as a fitness center. Club officials chose an existing location because it was cheaper than constructing a new building.
The club cost a few million dollars to renovate, according to Anne Marie Bitter, director of advancement at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake.
The design process began in 2021 with the help of Pasker Gould Ames & Weaver Architects, based out of Murray. Construction began during winter 2022 and was completed by Quillen Co., a Salt Lake City based company.
So far, 100 kids have signed up to attend the new club location.
To sign a child up to participate in the club, please visit gslclubs.org or visit the new location between 3-6 p.m. during open hours.
Prior to the new location, club members met at two different locations in Tooele City: the Dow James Building and another location nearby.
Each night staff members had to pack everything up and put it away. In the new club, they won’t have to do that.
The Boys and Girls Club first opened their doors in Tooele in 2013.
The Boys and Girls Club is a popular out of school care provider. All programs are centered on three goals: to ensure children graduate on time, engage in health-centered habits, and gain a strong sense of character.
The club provides parents with peace of mind while they are working without needing to worry where their children are or what they are doing.
“The club allows parents to keep working and not worry about childcare during out of school hours,” Bitter said. “A lot of times, that provides a lot of economic stability in families and creates better career trajectories in parents.”
The club also provides stability for children themselves.
“Out of school hours tend to be the most dangerous time for children,” Bitter said. “It’s when kids are most exposed to opportunities to engage in drug use, substance abuse, and violent activity. By being in Boys and Girls Clubs, those kids are in a safe, enriching environment.”
The Tooele club is one of seven sites in Tooele, Salt Lake, and Carbon Counties.