Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland opens new site in East Cleveland school building

 Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland has returned to East Cleveland.

The organization, which in 2017 left East Cleveland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center because neither BGCC nor the city had the funds to maintain the facility, has opened a Club at Heritage Middle School, 14410 Terrace Road.

The new Club is the 13th site operated by BGCC. The site director is Brandy Smith, who has been working at the East Tech Teen Center. Hours are 3:15-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and there is no charge to become a Club member.

Smith said the Club offers kids sports, dance, snacks, video games and other activities.

BGCC President and CEO Ron Soeder said the organization never wanted to leave East Cleveland and briefly had a temporary presence in the Salvation Army building there after exiting the civic center. He said a partnership with East Cleveland City Schools enabled BGCC to open the Heritage Middle School Club, and that it fits the organization’s current model of putting Clubs in school buildings. Soeder said while the Club had a successful run at the East Cleveland-owned Civic Center, neither BGCC nor the city had the resources to keep the building in proper shape and make improvements.

Each day, about 1,000 kids ages 6-18 go to a Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland site after school. There they find caring adult mentors, arts and music programs, athletics, a hot meal and more. The Clubs focus on academic success, healthy lifestyles and character development.