A Place to Play: Boys & Girls Club of Venice Article in The Argonaut
ONCE A REFUGE FROM A ROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD, THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF VENICE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS BY WELCOMING THE COMMUNITY IN
Story By Christina Campodonico • Photos by Niall O’Brien
Blink and you might miss the Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice’s brick-and-glass façade flush with Lincoln Boulevard. Though one of the tallest buildings in the immediate area, the three-story youth center has been such an integral part of Venice’s urban and institutional landscape over the last 19 years — the club itself has been around since 1968 — that it blends into the neighborhood’s civic life almost too well.
“If there’s an organization that’s around for a while, people kind of figure, ‘Oh well it must be financially solid because it’s been around for 50 years,’” says BGCV’s Interim CEO Patrick Mahoney. “So one of the things that I need to do is reignite the fire of support for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Venice in the community.”
Operated out of converted duplex on Lincoln for its first two decades, the club was once a rare safe place for kids in a rough neighborhood, tucked behind a high fence. Now it serves more than 3,000 kids a year across multiple sites, offering after-school programming so good that Westside parents are clamoring to get their kids enrolled.
“By week one this year, we were over-subscribed,” says Mahoney. “We’re literally at capacity.”
In other words, an institution once concerned with how to keep bad influences out is trying to figure out how to bring more of the Venice community and its resources in.