CAMBRIDGE — The Boys and Girls Club of Cambridge officially opened on June 30, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Governor Larry Hogan, state and local leaders. It is located in the Dorchester County Recreation & Parks Department’s site at 515 Leonards Lane in Cambridge.
The facility is the first of its kind on the Eastern Shore, with many more hoped to follow throughout the region. “Today is an incredible day for Cambridge,” CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore Jeff Breslin said.
The work, which began months ago in coordination with the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, came to a conclusion on June 28, when doors opened to welcome the first 45 members — children who were, Mr. Breslin said, waiting on the sidewalk to come in, so great was their enthusiasm.
“We’re here to support the young people,” Mr. Breslin said. “We’re part of a community and part of a team for youth.”
Gov. Hogan spoke to the crowd gathered in the parking lot in front of the building, saying, “It’s kind of a big deal.”
The pandemic, he said, had affected all Marylanders, none more so than children growing up in underserved communities. “We’re going to help them reach their potential,” Gov. Hogan said.
The location is within easy walking distance of low-income neighborhoods, allowing access for children and families interested in the enriching activities of the Boys and Girls Club. “This is ground zero” of the effort to help them, City Commission President Lajan Cephas said.
Among the organization’s first programs is the Summer Fun Club, scheduled to run until Aug. 20. This is a no-cost, eight-week, full-day program focused on summer learning loss, social-emotional wellness, and healthy lifestyles. Participants will be exposed to cultural enrichment, STEM, physical fitness, virtual field trips, etc. Breakfast, lunch and a snack will be provided.
The county bought the Leonards Lane property late last year and soon thereafter began talks with the Boys and Girls Club of Baltimore to expand the group’s presence into Dorchester. Club activities didn’t wait for the deal to be finalized regarding the Leonards Lane site — assistance started arriving over the winter, as the club coordinated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction with local after-school programs.
The Cambridge Police Department has expressed an interest in teaming up with the club, in conjunction with the Police Athletic League’s activities at Mace’s Lane Middle School. Contacts have also been made with a group seeking to renovate the remaining structure of Mace’s Lane High School, where other club activities could be offered.
There has also been talk of expanding the Boys and Girls Club into North Dorchester.
Work to bring the club to Cambridge began last fall, and moved quickly. During the early days of his tenure, Mayor Andrew Bradshaw said one of his goals was “establishing a Boys and Girls Club in our city, one I viewed as absolutely key.”
He said he estimated at the time that it would take two to three years to complete the arrangement, but after effective cooperation with the Recreation & Parks Department and the County Council, the process was complete in several months.
In a related development, the Recreation & Parks office is no longer at 446 Willis St. The department’s headquarters are now at 515 Leonards Lane. To reach the office by phone, call 410-228-5578.
For information about the Boys & Girls Club, contact Club Manager Gabriel Butler at: 410-200-7995, or GButler@bgcmetrobaltimore.org.