It is a fitting tribute that the new teen center for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence will be named “The Don and Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures.”
Last week, Harry Herington and his wife, Cindy, announced their pledge of $250,000 toward the construction of the center in honor of the Gardners, for whom the new center will be named.
The announcement came, appropriately, during an evening workout in South Park led by Don “Red Dog” Gardner. Gardner is well known for leading community workouts for youth and adults. He has done so for three decades. The Gardners also have spearheaded an annual run as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club.
Most school day afternoons, the Boys & Girls Club’s teen center hosts approximately 70 teens at 1520 Haskell Ave. Officials say the current facility is limited by space and amenities and that the new center will allow the club to serve more youth and provide more programs.
The future teen center will be adjacent to the newly completed Lawrence College and Career Center at 2910 Haskell Ave. The 30,000-square-foot facility will share spaces for music, arts, athletics and a culinary kitchen with the Lawrence school district, according to the club. The tentative timeline for construction of the facility is to break ground next fall and to open the teen center by August 2017.
The construction timeline is dependent on fundraising. The new facility is estimated to cost $5 million. The Heringtons’ gift brings the total raised to $1.2 million. As we have noted before, the Boys & Girls Club does outstanding work in Lawrence, and its support in the community has officials optimistic they will reach their fundraising goal.
Having the facility named in honor of the Gardners should help the effort.
The surprise announcement last week caused Don Gardner, a former Marine and police officer, to choke up. “I grew up in a foster home, and I have said to Boys & Girls Club people that I wish there had been one when I was here,” he told the crowd gathered for the announcement.
Colby Wilson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said “We can’t think of two better people for what we’re going to do for our teen center” than the Gardners. Neither can we — naming the teen center for them is an appropriate way to recognize the Gardners, who have made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of Lawrence residents, particularly the community’s youth.