The Chicopee Boys and Girls Club Teen Center Steering Committee.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

CHICOPEE — The Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee announced a $3 million capital campaign to construct a 4,500-square-foot new building at 580 Meadow St. for a new teen center.

The building will provide a safe place for teens, a study zone, digital media lab, Zen room, club café and gaming den.

As the only independent organization in the city that offers robust programming designed for teens, a new teen center will allow for the club to provide teens resources to enjoy their teen years and help to prepare them for their future.

Marketing and Development Director Lynn Morrissette said the progress has moved very quickly.
She added, “The excitement continues to build, especially with our current teen members that are able to watch the building go up.”

The whole process includes a three-phase project, totaling over $3 million, with the actual building being phase three.

Phase one includes a parking lot reconstruction project, which is currently underway, and cost approximately $725,000. The funds were committed to the club by the city of Chicopee, which determined this project was worthy of an investment of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Phase two will begin in the spring and include replacing the current single outdoor basketball court with a new, concreate full court and half court. The asphalt surface is failing and is a safety concern. This is a $150,000 project, funded by the city of Chicopee using Community Development Block Grant funds.

The court will carry the name of police officer Angela Santiago, in memory of her commitment to the young people in the city. She served as Chicopee High School’s school resource officer but died in an off-duty motorcycle crash in 2020.

Phase three will be the construction of a new teen center behind the basketball court. Current teen members have been involved in the initial brainstorming and design process.

The teen center will be called Haven, which means a place of safety. This will be a safe place for teens in the city and a location to focus on their futures.

Morrissette said they anticipate exterior work being completed by mid-July, and hope to move in by the end of October.

Once completed, Morrissette said she looks forward to the turnout of the new teen center.

She said, “Our main objective is to provide a safe space for teens to feel like they belong. We are confident that this building, designed specifically for teens, will draw them in, engage them with our programs and staff, and allow us to provide the resources and supports they need.”

A lot of the funding for the project has come from local and state funding along with a lot of support from government officials.

On May 10, the Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee hosted a Ground “Broken” ceremony for the center.

Current donors, committee members, local legislators and staff members joined together to celebrate the process. Some even signed a wall and will have their signature live on in the teen center for many years.

Morrissette said the support goes to show how much everyone cares about the future of the community.

She said, “Community support has been very positive. Our state delegation has been extremely supportive of this project and of all of the club initiatives and programs. We are fortunate to have three senators and three representatives in Chicopee. They are all willing to advocate on our behalf, both locally and at the state house.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee still have a ways to go to achieve its fundraising goals and Morrissette said she encourages people to get involved and support the project if they are able.

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