Windward Clubhouse Ready To Stretch Out

If it wasn’t for area residents, Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii might not have opened its Windward Clubhouse in 2006 – and soon it will break ground to welcome more children.

“The community actually came to us about a decade ago,” recalled BGCH president and CEO Tim Motts, “explaining that there were a lot of needs in the community, in terms of battling some of the challenges with youths, including substance abuse … and it had identified us as the one that could help kind of stem that tide and really help to engage the youths.”

Eight years later, more than 100 children ages 7 to 17 visit the club every weekday at Kailua Intermediate School, and more than 700 are registered members. So it’s no surprise that the club has been looking to expand its physical space since its inception. A tentative mid-May groundbreaking date has been set, clearing way for a brand-new building that could triple the club’s impact.

“Right now … it’s almost like a one-stop shop, where the kids are kind of cramped,” Motts said.

“They’re not elementary school kids, they’re bigger kids. They’re kind of packed in there like sardines. We utilize the space and the field and do everything we can, but this building will give them the opportunity to stretch their legs a little bit and enjoy the Boys & Girls Club in an appropriate way.”

The new building will be a “multi-room, kind of open-air space,” he explained, where both middle and high school students will feel comfortable. There will be technology- and art-oriented rooms, as well as a homework support center, recreational facilities, breakout rooms and even an Internet café.

“We could have up to 300 kids a day in the new space, and that’s something that will be absolutely huge for the community.”

It’s been a long haul with many delays to get to this point, Motts admitted, citing a long capital campaign for $6 million, the “multipronged” logistics of working with many different groups, licensing and permitting, and finding cultural artifacts at the site. Luckily, things should happen more quickly now, and an opening is possible for “sometime next school year.”

The club, meanwhile, is still trying to raise at least $2 million more to sustain and maintain the new space, and donations are always welcome.

The clubhouse will stay open during construction – from 2:15 to 6 p.m. weekdays (Wednesdays from 1:35 p.m.), and from 2 to 6 p.m. over the summer and other breaks. For more information, call 263-0555.