The Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio‘s Mays Family Clubhouse will open on the City’s near-Westside in the fall of 2016. The $4.8 million clubhouse, the seventh in the city, is being funded by a $10.9 million capital campaign, “Invest in a Child. Build a Great Future.”

The capital campaign, in addition to funding a new clubhouse, will pay for improvements at three other branch locations, upgrades and enhancements for the Club’s transportation fleet, and at least five years of operating expenses. The $10.9 million capital campaign includes $1.8 million from the City of San Antonio’s 2012 Bond Program, and $8.4 million from private contributions, including $2 million from the Mays Family Foundation, $1 million each from the Najim Family Foundation and the Valero Energy Corp., $750,000 from the Greehey Family Foundation, and $500,000 each from the Kronkosky Foundation, the Goldsbury Foundation, and Gregg and Erin Popovich. The organization plans to raise the additional $600,000 by the year’s end.

“This is our first capital campaign in decades and it’s nothing short of being life-changing for kids in San Antonio who really need us most,” said Angie Mock, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, at Wednesday’s groundbreaking event.

The Mays Family Clubhouse will be a 21,000 sq. ft. facility and include a learning center, art studio, teaching kitchen, multimedia centers, teen center, gymnasium and game room, and serve 650 new San Antonio youth each year.

Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio took off school to attend the event. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio took off school to attend the event. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Luis de la Torre was a clubhouse member during his youth in the ’70s for more than eight years. Today he is chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, and the president and general manager of the Clear Channel Outdoor division in San Antonio.

“The club guided my life, it taught me, it mentored me, and it truly made a big part of who I am today, and I am eternally grateful for it,” he said.

Last year the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“That is 75 years of improving lives of youth, inspiring them, teaching them, and giving them a safe and positive place to belong. And I think that is key: A place to belong,” de la Torre said.

The Mays Family Foundation’s $2 million donation was the single largest gift in the history of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio.

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Mays Family Foundation President Kathy Mays Johnson toured the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio’s Eastside branch this past spring and quickly became passionate about the program.

“The guy who was leading my tour, the manager there, had been served by the Boys & Girls Clubs and it really, really impressed me to see that success coming full circle,” Johnson said. “He had been helped and he gave back … It really proved positive that investing in the lives of these kids really proved positive for this city.”

San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich and Harvey Najim of the Najim Family Foundation, co-hosted the event.

“If you take these clubs away, your head just swims with what they can get involved in, in this world that we live in today,” Popovich said. “Paying attention and being focused on the kids is really a job for all of us … they are our future.”

San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich interacts with members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio. Photo by Joan Vinson.
San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich interacts with members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio. Photo by Joan Vinson. Credit: Joan Vinson / Rivard Report

Najim read aloud the five core values of the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio: character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts and sports, and fitness and recreation.

“During the last nine years I have become more convinced since starting and running my foundation that the Boys & Girls Club programs are important for the success of children who come from low-income families,” Najim said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio give disadvantaged youth a safe place to gather, learn, recreate and develop positive relationships with mentoring adults, helping them develop character and a belief in their own potential. According to de la Torre, 99% of the kids continue on to the next grade level and 99% graduate from high school.

“I know that my responsibility is to make sure that all of those kids that graduate have a place that they can come home to and District 5 is no longer looked at as the place where you have to get away from in order to be successful,” said Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5). “It is because of these organizations and these efforts that will encourage our youth of this community to stay right here when they came from, where they’ve been educated, where they’ve been loved and they’ve been nurtured.”

Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Councilmember Rey Saldaña (D4), whose district includes the Southside of the City, attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, and his sentiments echoed those of Councilmember Gonzales.

“Think about what it is like to grow up in a community and look around and get signals all of the time that, ‘This is not an area that gets investment, that this is an area that you need to move away from in order to be successful,’ as (Gonzales) described,” he said. “That’s a very true message that is sent to members of our community in the Westside, Eastside and Southside.”

*Top image: Greg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Head Coach, Luis de la Torre, chairman of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio, Kathy Mays Johnson, Mays Family Foundation President, Harvey Najim, CEO of the Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation, and Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5) partake in the shovel turning ceremony. Photo by Joan Vinson. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....