Adults and children alike bore grins and showed signs of excitement as the City of Menifee celebrated the opening of its very own Boys and Girls club, a community resource that city officials said has been sorely needed as well as one that took years to facilitate.
The club, which offers a number of activities and educational resources for children, was officially commemorated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 p.m. on Friday, June 20.
There were speeches and awards given as adults celebrated the culmination of their hard work. Meanwhile, children seemed to relish the opportunity to build and create Lego sculptures among a number of other fun activities.
The day was an important one for former Menifee city councilwoman Sue Kristjansson, who has worked to make the Boys and Girls club a reality over the past two years.
“I’ve lived here since 2002 and always thought we needed something like this in the community,” Kristjansson said. “So after my city council term I set about putting this together and I built a board of directors who were leaders in the community.”
Kristjansson and the board worked to procure the resources and funding necessary to make their goal of a Boys and Girls Club a reality. Now that the club is open children will not only have an opportunity to play and be participants in a number of different activities from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on any given day, but they can also use the center as a learning resource as well.
The “Power Hour” is an instructional period of time at the facility where children who need help with their homework can go to one of the center’s available instructors and get it, according to Kristjansson.
“The key to that is making sure that they’re kept up to date with their school work and that they’re not falling behind in any of the areas they need help in,” Kristjansson said. “And the second part of that is helping the parents; when you finish a day’s work, you don’t want to have to tackle that (homework), too.”
“This gives the parents the opportunity to spend different time with their kids – more family time,” she said.
Council member John Denver said he was excited by the fact that Boys and Girls Club was open in Menifee. He said that even before Menifee was a city, there was a need for a place where children could go.
Denver said kids in Menifee, Sun City, Romoland, Homeland and Quail Valley have traditionally had to go to Murrieta or Temecula if they wanted to participate in fun activities similar to the ones provided by the boys and girls club.
Now, with the boys and girls club in place, that need is being met closer to home for the people who live in Menifee and its surrounding areas, he said.
“This is fulfilling a tremendous need,” he said.
Denver added that the City of Menifee will be donating $35,000 to the Boys and Girls Club as a startup organization in the coming fiscal year, but that they’re not the only one’s poised to help.
The Assistance League of the Temecula Valley is aiming to do a book drive to provide the center’s children with books and the Sun City Library expressed a similar interest, according to Denver.
On the opening day children were participating in number of different activities. Some were jumping in the bouncy house located immediately behind the center while others were having fun building different constructions with Lego building blocks.
Twelve-year-old Jacob Bassett built a mosaic out of Legos that resembled one of his favorite superheroes, Spider-Man. He said he enjoyed being able to build with Legos and that he was glad the center provided the opportunity for him to do so.
Nine-year-old Kenneth Bloesel agreed with that sentiment as he built a house out of the blocks.
“It’s very gratifying to see all these kids enjoying themselves today after two years in the making,” said Bill Zimmerman, one of the members of the club’s board. “I’m very proud of all the work that went into creating this opportunity for Menifee’s families and the kids, which it will serve.”
Zimmerman said the activities offered through the boys and girls club will provide opportunities for interaction between the children, ultimately bolstering social skills.
He said he wants to provide lots of opportunities for children to participate in art, music and dance. He said he also wants to facilitate activities that will teach children about Menifee’s history.
One of the classrooms of the campus that now makes up the campus of the Boys and Girls club will be turned into a historical museum that the members of the club can visit to learn more about the place where they live.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for all of the service organizations in this community to work with boys and girls club to offer the things that are our experience and share our expertise with the kids here,” Zimmerman said.