Construction Progress For New Wakeman Boys & Girls Club

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.”

News release:

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.



  1. The Wakeman Boys & Girls Club Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse that opened in the West End area of Bridgeport in 2011 was a godsend for Bridgeport, it’s a true lifesaver for those who attend. Of course no one program is perfect but the life skills along with everything that they provide is amazing and needed. I’ve been to the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club on Fairfield Ave. for years because I would drop my grandson off there for 4 years every summer, it’s a hidden jewel in the city and I suggest if you could to see for yourself how great this new Wakeman Boys & Girls Club will serve the city.

  2. I would like to thank Bob Keeley for the 2.8 million dollars that he secured for the North End Boys and Girls Club on Madison Ave many years ago, while others now take credit for.
    We should name the Boys and Girls Club in his honor !

      1. I remember now she won and did nothing, but promised a (Walking Bridge) for the New Train Station that never came, then Vacated the seat for a better paying job.
        Then Steve Stafstrom promised the Walking Bridge for Black Rock and did nothing but claim the Money that Bob Keeley secured for the North End Boys and Girls Club on Madison Ave. What Horse Shit!

  3. Happy to hear about programs that serve the young beyond the school day or year and are judged to be successful.
    Why no body of planners for youth, life skills, education, recreation to deal with the overall failure of quality water safety programs for youths growing up in the City? Brian Lockhart seems to be saying that swimming pools, sufficient to serve programing for youth, is too expensive to build, operate, and maintain for an urban city with minority majority population and rivers, ponds, lakes, and saltwater beaches plus a marine patrol for public safety. Is that true? What was the expense, all in? Who decided that it was unaffordable? Are such answers coming from the same office that has failed to provide extra coaching for K-1 youth in public schools who cannot cope with alphabet, phonics, and intro to successful reading and leaning? Time will tell.

  4. Maybe the city and its elected officials should look at a boys and girls club instead of a library on Reservoir Ave

    Ron, Jim, and JML, my take on the prior discussion.
    For IOB reader contexts.

    John, humor may be a tough thing to factor in because it is not often universal in context and so crucial to evaluate because generally speaking, a joke is often at someone’s expense. In life experiences, when do we evaluate and distinguish history and the present time? Do we view today’s German for its Hitler past? If we are beholding it, If so, is the newly elected council member Fred Hodges wasting his time on second chances because of their history? Will time tell?

    The word blackface or appearing in black face is not inherently racist. Wouldn’t you have to evaluate the context critically, because what would be the relevance in doing so if the word “blackface is inherently “racist”? Jimmy Kimble and Jimmy Fallon got woked and had to apologize because they impersonated a black person in makeup?

    Generationally and culturally speaking, I don’t see or process it in the same way as the wokeness similar to humor I guess. When a black man does “whiteface” to impersonate the generalization of whiteness, with their loafer and khaki pants voice, like Dave Chappelle or Eddy Murphy. Is it racist? Should they apologize?

    I can speak for all of the whiteness and its experiences in America, but I am not sure CRT falls short in this regard, but how many whites in America are pondering the question if they really talk in such a manner? No, not you Redneck meth heads, teeth are required to create such a vernacular

    Respectively speaking, if it came from OIB’s Tom White, whose face has shown, to be kind ‘BIAS” at times in his sentiments when commenting I would lean toward your and Ron’s critical evaluation of the use of the word, “BACKFACE” as a show of disrespect or slight to blackness.

    However, Jim has not displayed such contempt tendencies. He surely has shown his disapproval, and contempt for G2 and Mario, to say the least

    From my perspective on the discussion, Ron made the first “BIAS” comment about blacks’ willingness to not vote for Maria because she is white. Humor aside, what would be your assessment in your universal contexts and critical evaluation if a white man said, “white people will not vote for a black person because he or she was black”? I am sure you will not call him an educator or teacher to OIB readers with a high-minded lesson about the history of “blackface” in America, While the shoe may fit though your meaning would be completely different, No?

    In my critical evaluation, Jim used the term ”backface” seemingly was to express what I just aforementioned. To be fair, I didn’t view Jim’s claim that Ron’s statement that blacks will not vote for Maria over a black person as reverse racism.

    Because there are some inherent emotions to the origin and history of a white person painting their face black, and the history of blacks in America in general, to say the least. It’s not an unfactual statement. It’s not absolute though. As Jim pointed out many blacks voted for G2 over a black woman. So why wouldn’t blacks vote for Maria over a black person, considering she is the reason Sen. Bradley finds himself in this quandary? I could be wrong about Jim’s racial tendencies as Ron’s. But that is my assessment, evaluation. I don’t hold those trues to be self-evident.

    As you stated,

    “ Humor is a tough thing to factor because it is often not universal and context is so critical to evaluation.”

    I personally painted my face black and dressed up as a Jamaican for Halloween. It wasn’t out of racism or contempt. It was more out of reverence. Similarly to people dressing up as Micheal Jackson in that red jacket.

    Culturally and generationally speaking, with life experiences. I was smoking a quarter pound of weed a week. I had most of the gear, just needed the dreadlocks, wig/hair, black face make-up, and a colorful hat to match my colorful shirt and pants that I was already sporting.

    It was a time when I was getting high, listening to reggae, Bob Marley, watching Cheech and Chong, Up in Smoking, as we packed blunts. I said pack because we didn’t cut those cigars open to roll a blunt. We unpacked the whole casing and repacked it. To be fair it was a time when dime bags had some value.

    I also dressed up as a brown person, a Mexican, climbing over Trump’s border wall during the era of Trumpism.

    An Indian Chief in full regalia with a custom-made slot machine attached. A time during G1’s tenure as mayor when the Port was in all the rage with the prospects of Indian Casino.

    “ Whiteface”, Phantom of the Opera.

    Not to mention when I was young, money was scarce, and creatively lead the way. I even dressed up as a girl with my sister’s clothes while we soap every car window in the Hollow. Do you know how hard it is to run in heels?

    This parleys to the broader hot topic of discussion, CRT, and transgenderism, especially on the young developing mind of children.

    CRT advocacy is more about a culture war of Anti- Americanism/Capitalism, and religion than racism, justice, fairness, or equality. It is a culture war on many fronts. IMO.

    John, as I stated many times on OIB there will come a time when racial identity politics will hit an equilibrium where things get blurry and hard to see.

    Case in point. The thread of discussion turned into a CRT/American racial history of blacks in America. Even though the two political candidates who are running against each other are highly educated, professional blacks. Let that sink in people.

    CRT is not teaching the history of America. It is using a portion of it as a means for its cultural philosophy that exploits the emotion associated with it.

    By no means am I saying there isn’t white racism in America or black racism for that matter? Things just get blurry at times? As you can see in the pivot way from the actual thread of two black candidates. To be honest, not sure if Bradley is black, for the sake of discussion, people of color.

    Ron, as a black man in America, is older and has experienced racism in his life that the next generation of blacks in America will never experience. Just like Ron wasn’t exposed to and experienced the same experience of blackness in America of the generation before him. Nor are whites free for generationally experiencing that black experience in America.

    Even though Ron is a recipient of the progress that has been made in America from its ”Hitler’s” white supremacy racist past. He was afforded the privilege of A city job, a pension. like many other “White Privileged” middle-class Americans. while other blacks weren’t so privileged too, many whites also. I’m not saying Ron didn’t experience injustice and racism in his career or life, based solely on his skin color I’m saying Ron’s life experiences are far different than the generation today and the one’s come.

    Take the Culture War of transgenderism. Many factors play into this. The inherent gay thing that resides within. Which is not just a mental aspect but a biological one too. It’s exploited in ways. I say biological because while there’s a mental process aspect to it, the “output” is very much biological.

    I don’t want to get into all the aspects of equality/tolerance between born biological (physical) genders and transgenders, like sports. But, since most people will never make it to a professional level in their athletic career there has to be a balance of tolerance in a country that holds its principal creed of inalienable rights, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    If dressing up in a social construct of American womanism is their pursuit of happiness, so be. It should not be infringed upon as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the pursuit of happiness of theirs

    That being said, There has to be an understanding of that tolerance. Is biological women’s pursuit of happiness being infringed upon in sports by biologically born males who transgender into females and competing in female sports? Surely culturally and societal distinguishes differences between the two physical species of humans. As well as their physical differences. There are physical advantages for a biologically born male over a biologically born woman. While it is not no absolute and the odds of a transgender being on the top of their athletic game who transitions reduce the odds of biological born male to dominance in female sports. However, there will be times likely Lia Thoma who dominated over other women because she was born with the advantages of a physical male body over the other females. We have to ask another question. Where do you draw the line between tolerance in fair play?

    I see no infringement by having biological male transgenders compete with males. Do we allow non-binary pick what sport, bathroom, or locker room they use?

    As for the developmental stage of young people, high school, the biological/advantages differences are more prominent. So I have more reservations about fair play Personally, kids should be transgendering until 18 years of age, IMO

    Bathrooms are a push since there are stalls. It’s not like women watch other women squat to relieve themselves. The locker rooms/changing rooms are a different story though. The transgender side has to be tolerant and understanding of natural-born women. It is not being intolerant for not wanting to see a women’s penis while changing or showering. I would say man too, but men seem to openly like boobs, and women don’t mind showing them for off to get attention. Culturally, there’re differences.

    This culture war has advocacies in coaching/grooming/exploiting kids into transgendering, I have even seen videos of a daycare worker dressing up boys in dresses, coaching/grooming them without the parent’s knowledge. This exposure in itself at such a young age like Drag queen reading stories is a form of grooming transgenderism, in the name of tolerance, diversity self-love, make no distinction about that.

    I will not go as far as to say transgendering is a mental disorder, like gender dysphoria in the pursuit of their happiness. It would be like saying the gay thing that resides within is a mental illness. When clearly there is a biological element that can contribute to it. via a mental process of sexual release. If fact one can say transgenders are truer to the “conservative” social construe of man and woman. Meaning, if my mental processes to stimulate a sexual gratification of a biological release of the opposite sex. Therefore, I must be in the wrong body.

    However, chasing that purple drag of sexual stimulus can be quite a life destructive. You don’t go from spin the bottle to “dinner parties and Fifty Shades of Grey overnight. That goalpost moves in the search for that sexual stimuli satisfaction. Before you know it you are popping quaaludes, wearing fishnets, singing shows tunes, tided up, suspended from the ceiling with a ball gag. trying to get illicit that sexual stimulus out of you. Like the aliens in the spaceship.

    However, there is a serious mental deficiency in the mindset of parents, similar to a mindset of those who abuse/exploit children When parents believe and “coach/groom” their kids that age of 3, 5. 10 claiming that have an understood transgender. Something is off. IMO JS

    The reason being, Santa Claus. Culturally speaking kids believe in a fat man wearing a red suit who delivers presents on December 25 and rides in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer because their parents told/”COACHED” them, What is the difference other than Open, Honesty, Transparency and Accountability

    When educated professionals or new outlets advocate or foster the idea kids are smart enough to understand transgenderism at the age of 3, 5 10, is beyond fathomable comprehension, to say the least. That’s game is more f@#ked up than Big Tobacco,
    Guidance is essential to parenting when raising a child and your culture and experience, for better or worse will play a role, be it religiously, ethically, educational, career, sports, and so forth. Yet a hatchling will eventually leave the nest to fly on their own accord in their pursuit of happiness.

    But that’s a fine line to cross to pump pharmaceutical (drugs) hormones that alter the physical body in a child’s I the concept of so-called understanding of transgendering. I am not saying beat a child to your liking if they go against a belief mindset. It is a far cry from a fat man in a red suit. Just saying, don’t groom/baptize them into transgenderism either, because it’s to your beliefs. It is not a career life choice. If a kid picks up a hammer it doesn’t mean they identify their life forever to be carpenter, give it some time, let their minds develop, talk to your child before pumping them up with body-altering drugs.

    Here is the thing about this culture war. In some aspects, contrary to popular belief. Those lines are can be blurry themselves, as the two sides dig in, Conservativeism and Liberalism. The reason is, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who guides Santa’s sleigh and, not to mention, the island of Misfits.

    Regardless of one’s place in the world in their pursuit of happiness. As a country, society can’t just banish these co-called misfits to an island because of their mental beliefs That would be un-Christian of them, Mary Christmas.

    Y’all gonna get jacked, looter in a riot.

    PS. I don’t want to tell you about my skiing trip, but we were higher than the Rocky Mountains. 🙂

    Bam, I am out of here with my OIB ESL thesis. As always I depart with the prophet Eminem. 🙂

  5. JML, you were talking about swimming pools, as a child my brother and I attended daytime summer camp at Middle Street Boys Club on Middle St across the street fire headquarters in the mid 1950’s. After lunch we would walk over to Orcutt Boys Club on Orcutt Street to go swimming for one hour because that was the nearest swimming around, we would pay a dime to ride the Barnum & State bus downtown and walk over to the boys club. Summer camp and those three boys clubs, Orcutt, Middle Street and North End kept a lot of us teenage boys out of trouble, latter in my life I ran into a number of those guys when I became a firefighter.

    JML, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club system of are a well oiled operation nothing like the way the Bridgeport clubs are ran.

  6. And there it is for all to see. The long of it on OIB ………and the brief of it, too.
    Racism, genderism, et al as subjects in an ESL PhD essay and a send-up of summer experiences back in his day in grammar school.
    But no questions or comments about why this urban city has increasing needy youths and decreasing pools or programs where ALL YOUTHS can be offered a basic water safety skills program beyond the water puddling playgrounds for infants. Who will champion this for children and grandchildren? Something for all to support so lifetime fear does not predominate. Where is the enemy in this case? Is it truly dollar signs or some extra .00s?Time will tell.

    1. John, questions? That’s all we get. You mean solutions or answers. But sometimes the answer lies within the questions. We all know the enemy of the black and brown in this urban city, the Port, is “White Supremacy” I guess that enemy has their sight on water skills, (Swimming Lessons)

      It would be nice for the Port’s clubs to have a pool and offer water safety skills for Port’s youths, but how high of a priority do you want the enemy of “White Supremacy” to place water safety skills (swimming) on their lifetime fear of predominance?

      Here’s a question. Maybe you can provide your insight on the matter, be long or short, brief or lengthy. Do you think the enemy was anywhere near the protest to prevent a Library to be built over a community summer garden?

      John, speaking of skills, life skills. As Momma Gump said, “you have to do the best of what God gave you”. OIB, the best ESL class ever. 👨🏼‍🎓🤣

  7. Actually RT you get more than simply questions. You get consideration of a broad issue relative to youth in Bridgeport (life skill development, youth education and public financing) and comparison to youths (and adult responses in other towns in the region) and then you get a loaded question (that I fail to have a final answer to) that the community may wish to chew on and offer answers. And you respond with a complaint that all you hear are questions?
    Perhaps your best ESL class ever has provided confidence to deconstruct an issue or statement to find where the answers ma be? I was at the last couple City Council meetings speaking to other City issues, but I found no one mentioning swimming pools relative to Library services or opportunities to continue Community Gardens.
    I did observe representatives from a neighborhood revitalization zone who spoke to neighborhood beliefs that may or may not be currently represented by CC representatives from that neighborhood. That is different. One CC member spoke in the public session declaring that she represents the neighbors, also. Not big fireworks, but seeing that there are two sides to some questions, it is interesteing for other Council districts to be sure that their neighbors and voters are sincerely heard/ Time will tell.

    1. John, what you fail to understand. It’s not about the questions but rather the answers. Everything is not a carbon copy. You tend to put your question in a box. By simplifying them as white supremacy, suburban box. It’s not that there isn’t privileged in America, white privilege at that, but you have to recognize financial privilege too. You might want to do some of your own considerations and chew on your questions a bit longer before you regurgitate to make them palatable for the community easily digest. Some people in the community are lactose intolerant. 🤣

      My responses are accordingly to the questions. Yeah, the best ESL class has afforded me not only confidence but the opportunity to deconstruct an issue or statement.

      John, you might have failed to think that I neither had any consideration nor chewed on your question/issue as to why a Port youth recreational club is being built without a swimming pool for life water safety training skills before I deconstructed it. Especially when similar recreational clubs in other more weather communities do. (presumably)

      There are two sides to that question/issue. I am sure money and liability are considerable factors considered. It would be nice for Port’s youths to have access to safe swimming pools that can play in on hot summer days.

      It’s your guise in the question you are asking the community to consider and chew on, wittingly or unwittingly, and the racialization of it, “White Supremacy”. “Something for all to support so lifetime fear does not predominate. I hear Gen Now is hosting a seminar on it.” To be fair, I may have racialization that statement, because I am not 100% sure what you meant by a “so a lifetime fear does not predominate”. The lifetime fear of not learning how to swim. But in the context of the enemy aspect of your question.

      Safety water skills, swimming lessons, is a very personal one-on-one lengthy lessons activity/programs. Granted, you’ll need a pool to offer it. But for the most part, pool recreation is just a bunch of youths horsing around in a seemingly dangerous environment. A liability clubs don’t want to take on. It is sad but understandable from a perspective.

      Raised in the Port, we had to go to other communities to use their public pools. My white privilege may have made me blend in a bit easier but it didn’t keep me from getting kicked out. I just you can take the youth out of the ghetto, but not the ghetto, reckless unsupervised attitude out of the youth. I don’t ever want to tell you one trek in search of a community pool. 🙂

      The Park Commission seems to do a lot. Maybe at the next CC meeting try lobbing for a 4, 5 foot large, wide community pool/recreation at theSeaside Park on the back end of the “ garbage mound” SMF

      Speaking ESL, Water, As always, I depart with the prophet Eminem.


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