Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas recently partnered with Sands Expo to renovate the teen center inside the Lied Memorial Clubhouse, 2850 S. Lindell Road.
The 2,000-square-foot area sat empty for months after the cafeteria was moved downstairs.
“We moved the cafeteria to accommodate younger kids and eliminate accidents on the stairs,” said Alma Spears, director of program operations and family services. “Once we did that, the old area was just a poorly used space.”
Clubhouse director Fiztslona Johnson said she wanted the area to be like a coffee house lounge area for teens to study, meet with mentors or hang out with friends. However, the organization lacked the funding for renovations.
“My mom ran a day care when I was younger and I never had a quiet place to study,” Johnson said. “I wanted them to have what I didn’t: A quiet place to sit and study and be OK with who they are.”
Johnson said she mentioned her lounge idea to a Sands Expo employee who was picking up his daughter from the clubhouse one afternoon.
“He just said, ‘Well, my work is looking for a new volunteer project,’ ” Johnson said. “He later set up a tour with the executives and they were wowed and agreed to help.”
During the renovation, the organization asked its teen members for design and decoration ideas.
“They feel very proud because they were part of it,” Spears said. “They took ownership of it and now they have a place to call their own.”
Sands Expo furnished the center and coordinated donations for paint, carpet and books.
The center is divided into two areas that overlook an indoor basketball court. The recreation room has games, a computer lab and a television. The lounge side is filled with tables, chairs and books.
Johnson said there also are plans to purchase two flat-screen televisions to air news stations in the lounge.
“We want to keep the kids updated on current events so they know what’s going on around them,” Johnson said. “We’re more than just a (recreation) center, and people see that.”
The organization also offers weekly classes to teach teens life skills, such as resume building, career launching and money managing. The kitchen portion of the old cafeteria was kept in the teen center so members can learn to make snacks and sell them for future field trips.
Alula Geberslassie, 16, has been a member of the organization since he was about 6 years old.
“I come here every day for the gym,” he said. “I think the new teen center gives us a lot of space with both sides. It’s cool.”
Jacquez Sparrow, 16, also visits the clubhouse for the gym and weekly classes. He attends Spring Valley High School and hopes to attend Syracuse University once he graduates.
“I like to play some basketball at the gym here so I can get better at the game,” Sparrow said. “If the NBA doesn’t play out, then I want to be a business man and run a few businesses.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas is planning to merge with Boys & Girls Clubs of Henderson to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada. There are about 14 clubhouses between the two organizations.
The Lied Memorial Clubhouse is open during the school year Monday through Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.
Annual memberships are available to clubhouses throughout in the valley. A teen membership costs $20 for unlimited use. A children’s membership for ages 5 to 12 costs $40 for after-school care and an additional $5 per day for before-school care.
According to Spears, the organization offers child care assistance for families who cannot afford the cost.
“We accommodate parents who may not be able to pay the fees by offering them an assistance application,” Spears said. “We want all children to have the same opportunity to join.”