Pompey, along with representatives from the Blue Jays and the Boys & Girls Club, as well as Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, gathered at the Club's West End Community HUB to officially unveil the new facility which was made possible, in part, by a $150,000 grant from the Jays Care Foundation.
"With the support and funding of Jays Care Foundation, the club has been able to not only put money directly into our programs, but also to deliver programming, and space for our programming, to club members in Kingston's west end," said Harold Parsons, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Kingston. "Without the support of Jays Care, we would not be the organization we are today."
The West End Community HUB, officially unveiled on Tuesday, is a 55,000-square-foot facility featuring a full-size gymnasium, 25-metre swimming pool with slide, a dance studio, a boxing ring, an arts and crafts studio, a technology lab, a games room and more. The HUB will provide access to safe spaces for youth programming to over 200 club members every day, vastly increasing the availability of programming options in Kingston's west end.
While the facility may be brand new, the partnership between Jays Care and the Boys & Girls Club of Kingston is anything but. The club was a stop on the Blue Jays' 2014 Winter Tour, where club members had an opportunity to meet and play ball with their favourite Jays and the club itself was introduced as a Blue Jays Baseball Academy Rookie League site. Members of the club were also treated to a Rookie League instructional clinic led by Pompey.
Rookie League is a program that uses baseball as a foundation to teach children the importance of team work, cooperation and self-esteem. This safe, fun, active and engaging baseball program for children ages 5-13 focuses on those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in recreational or organized sport. Jays Care provides baseball equipment, T-shirts, hats and baseball resources, as well as sustainable grants to each community. In 2014, Rookie League is celebrating its 26th season, and it will continue to break barriers to organized sport for more than 8,000 children and youth in 140 communities from coast to coast.
"Today was a great opportunity for kids like us to meet someone that we can look up to," said 11-year-old club member Ellie. "It was great to have a Blue Jay come talk to us about setting goals and reaching for your dreams. We're lucky that we have a Canadian MLB team so close to us, and I think the new building will help a lot of people."
"The West End Community Hub will enable The Boys & Girls Club of Kingston to eliminate transportation and financial barriers to programming for over 200 children and youth every day," says Brendan Mohammed, manager of programs and outreach for the Jays Care Foundation. "We are proud to expand our relationship with The Boys & Girls Club to provide this much-needed space and impact this area of Kingston."
For members of the Boys & Girls Club -- now Rookie Leaguers with their very own Field of Dreams -- their dreams of becoming a star athlete may just seem a little closer to reality, having spent the afternoon with Pompey, who grew up only hours to the west in Mississauga, Ontario.