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Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) today announced it will sunset the Augusta M. LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club at 2739 N 15th Street in Milwaukee. BGCGM has been leasing the building where the LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club is located from Milwaukee Rescue Mission (MRM) for almost five years with the understanding that BGCGM would shutter the space at the end of the lease in March of 2022. BGCGM requested an early evolution process whereby the LaVarnway location will close at the end of December 2021 to minimize any service interruptions for Club members. December provides a clean stopping point for members, while March would have affected students in the middle of the spring semester.
The LaVarnway Club transition plan dates back to the spring of 2017 when BGCGM’s Board of Trustees made the strategic decision to shift the organization away from property management and ownership. BGCGM sold the building to MRM in spring of 2017 and agreed to rent the facility from MRM for the next five years. This was communicated with BGCGM’s staff, members, and their families at the time to make them aware of this forthcoming transition. MRM owns the entire building and occupies a separate portion of the building where they house their school and community programs. MRM will be finalizing their plans in the coming weeks, to determine how they will expand and continue to serve the community.
The 14 staff members currently working at LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club are guaranteed positions at another BGCGM location and all 88 children and teens enrolled at the LaVarnway Club will be invited to continue their memberships at another BGCGM Club location. There are 44 Club locations in Milwaukee and 8 are near the LaVarnway Club:
North Division: .4 miles
LaFollette: 1 mile
Clarke: 1.1 miles
Siefert: 1.2 miles
Riverwest: 1.7 miles
Fitzsimonds: 1.8 miles
Pieper-Hillside: 1.8 miles
Carver: 1.8 miles
BGCGM will be coordinating field trips for members and their families to visit these nearby Clubs for “open house days” beginning in September. The field trips will provide LaVarnway Club members and their families the opportunity to meet other Boys & Girls Club members and be introduced to Club staff at each location.
“This was not a quick or easy decision,” said BGCGM president and CEO, Kathy Thornton-Bias. “It’s a move though that we are prepared for and reminds us that the heart of our mission lies within our amazing people.”
Starting immediately and through December, BGCGM will continue to communicate and work with parents, members, and staff to ensure smooth transitions.
“Though this is a transition for our Club members and our LaVarnway staff, we are confident everyone involved will continue to benefit from and enjoy the opportunities the Clubs provide,” said Thornton-Bias. “Though the purpose of the bricks and mortar is evolving, the impact of those who brought the building to life will not be diminished.”