The construction needle is finally moving along for the new Wakeman Boys & Girls Club on Madison Avenue.
“I am particularly pleased to see this project coming to fruition,” says State Rep. Steve Stafstrom who represents the area. “Last year, I worked diligently alongside my colleagues in the Bridgeport Delegation to secure $3 million in state bonding in December. The state-of-the-art center will serve hundreds of children ages 3 to 18, providing our kids with outlets for recreation, the arts, child care, and more.”
The groundbreaking for Wakeman Boys & Girls Club’s new Madison Avenue Clubhouse is set for Monday, March 28, 2022, 11 a.m. at 595 Madison Avenue in Bridgeport. The Wakeman Boys & Girls Club Madison Avenue Clubhouse in the North End/Hollow neighborhoods of Bridgeport will open for children and families Summer 2023.
In 2016, the City of Bridgeport approached Wakeman Boys & Girls Club to establish a partnership to replace the condemned North End Boys & Girls Club facility on Madison Avenue. The City of Bridgeport was eager for Wakeman Boys & Girls Club to replicate the success of the organization’s Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse that opened in the West End area of Bridgeport in 2011.
Wakeman Boys & Girls Club–with the support of their Board of Trustees and greater community–has raised over $15 million in private contributions, in addition to the recent news of a State of Connecticut $3 million bond and additional City of Bridgeport, State and New Markets Tax Credit funding.
“The outpouring of support is humbling. This project would not be a reality without the generosity of our longstanding Wakeman Boys & Girls Club supporters. The $3 million bond from the State, after the early funding and land provided by the City of Bridgeport, is one more vote of confidence from the community in Wakeman Boys & Girls Club’s ability to provide more services to Bridgeport youth. This important project helps us fulfill our mission, which is “to guide and inspire young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential,” says Wakeman Boys & Girls Club CEO, Sabrina E. Smeltz.
According to Smeltz, State Representative Steve Stafstrom, Speaker of the House Matt Ritter, Governor Ned Lamont, City Council Members, Senator Marilyn Moore, and members of the Bridgeport delegation played a critical role in advancing the project.
“The construction of a state-of-the-art Wakeman Boys & Girls Club on Madison Avenue has long been a priority of mine and I am thrilled to have been able to secure the critical State matching investment needed to finally make this $23 million project a reality,” State Representative Steve Stafstrom said. “I want to extend my thanks to Governor Lamont, Speaker Ritter and commission members for understanding this project’s significance and value.”
Wakeman Boys & Girls Club’s Madison Avenue Clubhouse project will be a two-story 44,230 square foot space and will bring significant resources and opportunities to one of the most socio-economically challenged areas in the state.
In proximity to the new clubhouse are nine schools and the organization anticipates serving over 2,000 new youth ages 3 to 18 annually. Club kids will benefit from academic support, health, wellness, recreation, nutrition, social and emotional learning, and enrichment programs in a safe space. The facility will include multiple learning centers, a three-court field house, performing arts space, a technology room, teen lounge, STEM learning space, and a licensed preschool center. In addition to being a rich resource for children and families, the clubhouse will contribute to the economic development of the North End and Hollow neighborhoods by adding 40 new full-time equivalent positions, and part-time roles for first-time, job-seeking teens.
Wakeman BGC is also partnering with Southwest Community Health Center, which will have a 10,000 square foot clinic on the second floor of the building and will provide medical, dental, vision and behavioral health services. Other partners, including Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, will collaborate with Wakeman Boys & Girls Club on programming and activities.