Youth service a focus on the westside

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

A popular facility on the westside will hold a special ceremony that will mark the re-launching of its youth services.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus purchased the J. Ashburn Jr. facility in November after operating programming at the site since last June. One year later, the organization officially will re-launch the westside center after providing renovations and updates to the facility.

“The Ashburn partnership gave us a perfect opportunity to expand services to the Hilltop,” CEO Rebecca Asmo said.

The Boys and Girls Clubs gives young people guidance and skills to succeed in life by providing comprehensive, affordable afterschool and summer programming for children and teens ages 6 through 18.

Membership costs just $5 per child per year, which allows youth access to the club.

The month’s event at the J. Ashburn Jr. facility, which the public is invited to attend and will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 10 at 85 Clarendon Ave., will include music, games, food and a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

The Boys and Girls Clubs has served the westside from its original Gift Street location, but as the East Franklinton neighborhood changed, the organization saw a need to realign its services in the area, Asmo said.

“We acquired the facility after working with the leaders of the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center to determine the best way to carry forward programs for youth and families in the Hilltop,” she said. “The center never closed because of the work both organizations did to make sure we had the right services in place to meet the needs in the community.”

Now called the J. Ashburn Jr. Boys and Girls Club, the facility offers a variety of programs in the areas of academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles. The programs incorporate national programs with locally developed activities, Asmo said.

Clubs are open Monday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m. during the school year, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. They offer homework help, organized sports, meals, leadership programs, college exploration, financial education and jobs for teens.

In the fall, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus will open a teen center in Franklinton along Sullivant Avenue as well, Asmo said.

Renovations to the Clarendon building were made courtesy of the city of Columbus, Hollywood Casino and Lowes.

To RSVP to the June 10 ceremony, go to bgccolumbus.org  and click on the “School’s Out! Clubs are in!” link on the homepage.

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