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Chicopee Boys & Girls Club to add outdoor pavilion with $250K CARES Act grant

Standing outside under a small tent in the pouring raid, Jason Reed looked out onto the audience of elected officials and others and said it would be great to have a pavilion now.


Alas, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee was just breaking ground Monday on its new 1,800 square-foot pavilion to be built behind the Meadow Street facility. Once completed, it will create a space to allow children to get outside in all types of weather, where it is more difficult to spread the coronavirus and other diseases, said Reed, executive director of the club.


“It will be flexible space. If it is 100 degrees or it is raining we can still take our kids outside,” he said.


But one of the best parts of the $250,000 project is it will be completely funded with federal CARES Act money, instead of so many projects at the club that require extensive capital fundraising campaigns.


The money was awarded through the Community Development Block Grant program funded by the federal government and run through the city. It is designed to fund different projects and programs that help low-income families or neighborhoods.


When the CARES Act money was made available, Boys and Girls Club officials told those at the Community Development office they needed a way to be able to reopen the club to children who were learning remotely during the pandemic.


Some money was made available so they could made fast improvements such as touchless faucets and then the club, with the help of a local architect firm, did an extensive assessment of its capital needs and determined the best way to improve the club was to make better use of the outdoor space, Reed said.


“The groundbreaking signifies not just new beginnings but optimism that our Boys and Girls Club will continue to grow thrive and impact as many youth here in Chicopee as possible,” said Michael Vogle, 1st vice president for the Board of Trustees for the club.


During the groundbreaking U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, who is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said he and other legislators wrote the CARES Act in just eight days to help the American people during the worst days of the pandemic.


“This was about a recovery process, getting people back on their feet, and it worked,” he said.


He praised the Boys and Girls Club project, saying it used federal money in “a wise manner.”


Chicopee Mayor John L. Vieau said he grew up as a “club kid” so he personally understands the opportunities the Meadow Street facility can offer to students, especially those who grow up in low-income neighborhoods.


“I can’t be more proud to say that CDGB funds are being used in a proper way because (they are going to) the kids who need it most and the part of the community that needs it most,” Vieau said.

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