Strengthening new communities: Boys and Girls Club unveils new Marion location

By Riley Hemken, Staff Reporter

The Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois is expanding to Williamson County with their new Marion location. 

The new center was unveiled at a press conference on April 6. The building was formerly a church and was chosen due to its spaciousness.

During the press conference, Marion mayor Michael Absher spoke about the new location and the difference the Boys and Girls Club will make in the community.

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“Kids are not just our future; they are our present,” Absher said.  

 Following the mayor, Stephanie Wood, the board chair, gave a speech regarding the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club on the communities thus far, and how much the new location will impact Williamson County. 

“When we strengthen our community, we strengthen everybody,” Wood said. 

Joining the ceremony, Scott Murrie, a Marion task force member, spoke on behalf of the benefits students receive from the Boys and Girls Club. 

“It’s so much more than playing dodgeball and kickball; students with C’s become students with A’s,” Murrie said. “There are so many teachers and SIU students that come to volunteer.”  

During her speech, Boys and Girls Club CEO Tina Carpenter attributed the new location to the resilience of the Boys and Girls Club staff.

“When faced with COVID-19 last March, our staff did not shut down, didn’t stop and kept going, because we didn’t give up, we are able to celebrate today,” Carpenter said.  

The new location offers new and exciting programs such as a computer center and a fine arts room. 

During a tour of the building, Carpenter explained the benefits of the old church building with a larger gathering area for banquets or homework hours to be held, a designated area for fine arts, and many classrooms.

Tour guides also talked about the possibilities of introducing grow towers to the Marion location, to provide sustainable fruits and vegetables for the club. 

According to a press release, the new center is expected to open June 7 for summer programming.

Staff reporter Riley Hemken can be reached at [email protected]

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