A new Boys & Girls Club has opened in an affordable housing community in the Richmar neighborhood of San Marcos.
The 6,000 square foot Walter J. & Betty C. Zable Foundation branch located at 413 Autumn Drive is slated to serve up to 125 school-aged children each day.
The clubhouse was built in a commercial space that had been an empty concrete shell, vacant for several years in a crime-ridden area.
The clubhouse was built over the past year and is a collaboration between the non-profit youth club and the city of San Marcos as part of the city’s ongoing two-decade effort to revitalize the Richmar neighborhood. .
A grand opening with ribbon cutting and site tours drew members of the San Marcos City Council and Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos Board of Directors, as well as community supporters to the site on June 28.
The clubhouse will provide local children with state-of-the-art technology to learn after school and during school vacations as part of the club’s mission “to inspire young people to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring and to provide a world-class club experience that ensures success is within reach of every young person who walks through its doors.
The club includes the North City Tech Center, which gives children access to computers and coding programs, robotics and other equipment to foster STEM skills, and virtual reality glasses. The club offers the Alexander & Eva Nemeth Learning Lab for students to complete homework with guidance and tutoring from club staff and inspiration from mentors to foster academic success.
There is a Maker Space which offers easels, paint, markers, cameras and a green screen wall for young people to incorporate technology into their creative process and foster creativity and self-expression.
The club’s EDCO games room has an Exergames T-wall, giant table football, air hockey and other games for youngsters to learn about teamwork and sportsmanship.
A demonstration kitchen allows children to learn the science of food, basic cooking skills and kitchen safety while creating healthy foods. A free healthy meal is offered daily to members during the after-school program.
A multipurpose meeting space, called the Community Connections Center, includes modular furniture and conference equipment and can be used to accommodate partners and staff training.
The city was looking for a community-focused tenant to occupy a block of vacant commercial space in the Richmar neighborhood and offered the club a 30-year renewable lease at $1 per year with $1.2 million in additional funding to help to pay for tenant construction to open a second clubhouse in San Marcos. Funding for the construction of the clubhouse came largely from affordable housing grants and the city’s allocation of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, according to club officials.
The club also received a $100,000 neighborhood reinvestment program grant for the project approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
“The clubhouse will have such a positive impact on so many young people in our San Marcos community, helping them to become stellar citizens of tomorrow,” said Cathy Baur, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos.
Among the club’s outstanding members is Ernie Montano, a top student at Mission Hills High School, who is the Boys & Girls Club 2022 San Diego County Youth of the Year.