The sounds of banging hammers and music filled the air of the Boys and Girls Club building on Zorn Street Thursday afternoon as volunteers from all around the area worked to whip the long-vacant facility back into shape.
The renovation was the result of a partnership between the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Texas, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Niagara Cares — the philanthropy division of Niagara Bottling.
“This is the fourth year of our partnership with Niagara Cares,” said Chris Rubright, director of programs for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. “As part of that partnership, we do what we call community enhancement projects where we pick three to four locations a year that need some love, typically around Niagara Bottling plants, and we activate their employees and get them involved. We basically identify a good site that has some good things going on, orchestrate some projects through the local organization to figure out what they need, and then work with Niagara Bottling to get the job done.”
The two-day refurbishment of the facility began on Wednesday with a completion goal of Thursday afternoon and hosted about 20 volunteers from the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Niagara Bottling, as well as several volunteers from the local Home Depot, Rubright said.
“It’s been a busy couple of days,” he said. “We have had a lot of hands to help make work light, but it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve mainly been working on the facility’s kitchen and conference/multipurpose area. We’ve been putting in some countertops, helping out with the kitchen space as well as putting up all-new walling, and we’ll get the floor resealed so that the kids will be able to have a place where they can do activities and get their energy out or do their homework.”
The refurbishment was made possible from a $75,000 donation from Niagara.
“With these community engagement projects, we allocate a certain amount of our funds towards these more engaging volunteer opportunities,” said Allison Morimoto, Niagara Bottling’s project manager of corporate giving. “This is our fourth and final project of the year that we have allocated those funds to. We chose Seguin because our local plant decided they wanted to help the Boys and Girls Club. Typically, our projects are more finessed based, but this one is a little bit different because it’s a much bigger project, but hopefully it’s the start of something really amazing.”
Although the work is demanding, it is well worth it to contribute to a local facility, said Pamela Rael, Home Depot lumber department supervisor.
“We are here today to help out with whatever they need us to do,” she said. “Whether it’s painting, building, sweeping or taping, it’s nice to give back. Home Depot usually does a couple of projects a couple of times a year, but we usually go to San Antonio. We usually don’t find a whole lot of projects around Seguin, so this was a great opportunity for us to stay at home and help the local community.”
The club was in dire need of upgrades when he and other volunteers arrived at the facility, said Trevor Baugher, Niagara Bottling plant director. He said he is hopeful for the club’s future after completion of the renovations.
“When we got here, it was in pretty rough condition,” Baugher said. “I don’t know how many years it was vacant, but it was definitely eye-opening when we came inside. I think we are doing a long-term partnership with the Boys and Girls Club here since we aren’t going anywhere and they aren’t going anywhere. So we’ll start doing some more even as we go along, whether its mentorship with the kids, donation of time. We may even be coming to coach basketball games or even just helping the kids with reading some books.”