‘We’re finally here’ – Girls, Inc. breaks ground on new facility. BRHA is proud to support its neighbor in this new endeavor of constructing a gym and community center.
BRISTOL, Va. – Dirt was flying Wednesday along Clinton Avenue as more than a dozen children – participants at Girls, Inc. and Children, Inc., of Bristol – donned plastic hardhats and used plastic shovels to ceremonially break ground for a new $1.8 million gym and community center.
“We’re finally here,” President and CEO Amy Barker Phillips said during the ceremony. “I’m just ecstatic, and I’m not alone in this feeling that I’ve gotten to share this with so many people. This has been a dream here for us for over 15 years.”
Plans call for a 7,500 square foot facility with a gym, a full kitchen and partitions that will allow for the creation of up to six different classroom spaces on a lot across the street from Girls, Inc. Phillips said the rising cost of building supplies means the fundraising efforts aren’t complete, but construction is still expected to begin Sept. 12.
“We still need to raise some more but that’s OK, we’re going to do it,” she said.
The goal is to raise another $183,000 to complete the building and an additional $100,000 to outfit and equip the interior of the building, she said.
The total shrank a few minutes later after Virginia Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, presented a $15,000 check from the Food City Foundation.
“The board of our foundation met and wanted to help with this project,” O’Quinn said.
The organization’s previous gym was located nearby, but was razed several years ago.
“A lot of our children cannot afford sports in the school system so they can still participate in sports. It will be a gym that will be able to convert into a classroom to serve an additional 240 students. Now we won’t have to be out in the weather – when it’s too hot or too cold – they can still participate in sports,” Phillips said.
Currently, Girls Inc. is able to accept a maximum of 150 girls at their Bristol site. Once complete, the gym and community center will expand to a total capacity of 390 children.
Once complete the facility will also serve as a community center, available to the public, for reunions, celebrations, parties and recreation activities, she said.
Girls Inc. is a licensed day care provider providing life skills programming and academic enrichment. It serves children ages 5 to 18 and programming targets low income and at-risk youth.
To donate or make a pledge, visit girlsinc-bristol.com/gym