LOCAL NEWS

New Boys & Girls Club Gives Kids In Underserved Area Safe, Fun Space

Jun 2, 2021, 5:57 PM | Updated: 9:05 pm

 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Spence Eccles Boys & Girls Club held a ribbon-cutting for a safe haven where kids and teens in the Rose Park and Fair Park neighborhoods of Salt Lake City can grow, thrive, and have fun. 

The kids and teens who live in this neighborhood near 600 W. and N. Temple have enjoyed this clubhouse for the past year but the pandemic postponed the dedication and ribbon-cutting until Wednesday. 

“What a beautiful building it is: it’s unlike any boys and girls club on the planet,” said LeAnn Saldivar, outgoing president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. “Every room was carefully planned to provide a welcoming and inclusive place for kids to explore their interests, hone their knowledge and skills, and to express themselves artistically.” 

The Spence Eccles Club, like all of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, is a safe place where kids can make new friends, and feel like they belong. 

The Spence Eccles Boys & Girls Club near 600 W. and N. Temple. (KSL TV) A look inside the new center. (KSL TV)

“With all of the opportunities that the club has given me, I’ve become a really good person,” said club member Sheme Marshall. 

She started going to the old club, known as the West Capital Club six years ago and loves the new place. It has about twice as much space and everything is new. 

Sheme showed up at the club just about every day to cook, eat, and shoot hoops. 

“The club has actually helped me stay grounded, and not in the streets every day, and doing things that I’m not supposed to be doing,” she said. 

COVID-19 was especially tough on families in Salt Lake City’s west side neighborhoods with underserved populations but this is a place where they can thrive and grow. 

“It’s just very important to take care of our kids because that’s our future,” said Spence Eccles, the lead gift donor for the project. 

Eccles gained a passion for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Salt Lake more than 40 years ago when he helped raise money for the club in Sugar House. He was also instrumental in developing the West Capital Club. 

“I firmly believe there is no greater investment we can make than the youth of our communities,” he said. 

Eccles believes it’s important to support the kids in every neighborhood, even if it’s not your own neighborhood. 

“They’re going to get their citizenship and their character built, and that’s really important to them, and they don’t realize how important it’s going to be,” he said. 

Every space is designed for the kids: art studio, tech labs, gaming areas, computer spaces, and a quiet space where kids can decompress and get away from the noise. 

“Anything that a kid would want to experience, we want to be able to make that happen here,” said Amanda Ree Hughes, incoming president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. 

There are programs to help them with their homework and to learn how to avoid risky behaviors to set them on a path for a great future. 

“This place really gives kids and teens a sense of belonging, a safe place to go, we know those hours between 3 o’clock and 7 o’clock are some of the most dangerous for kids,” she said. 

Many community partners contributed. The lead gift pledged by Spence Eccles and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. 

For information on the Spence Eccles Boys & Girls Club, or other Boys & Girls clubs in Salt Lake go to gslclubs.org. 

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New Boys & Girls Club Gives Kids In Underserved Area Safe, Fun Space