Kids are already using the new Teen Center at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro, which had a grand unveiling ceremony on Tuesday, June 28.
The expansion of the only Boys & Girls Club in Washington County came courtesy of a partnership with Comcast and HGTV, which provided big grants to help with the total $200,000 price tag.
"This would not have been possible without the work and contributions of Comcast," said club chief executive officer Terry Johnson, noting that the effort to expand the teen program started more than two years ago.
The center will house the organization's teen programs. Staff and supporters of the Inukai Family Club heralded the space as a needed resource for Washington County teens.
"This is exactly the kind of thing we need more of in Washington County," said Katie Riley, president of the Washington County Kids nonprofit, which promotes after-school programs for children, tweens and teens. "It's good for teens to have a place to hang out and be around positive adult influences."
The project turned a former taqueria next door to the B&G Club on Southeast Third Avenue in Hillsboro into a large gathering space for teen members of the club. It has new computers, books, video games, board games and study spaces.
There, teens can play games, do homework, and use the computers for online access that they may not have at home.
This component was key for sponsors like Comcast, which identified this project as one of its "Lift Zones," an area identified by the company for expanded broadband internet access.
Comcast community investment manager Rebecca Brown said the company identified a lack of internet access as a key problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most schooling went fully remote.
"We've been a longtime supporter of various Boys & Girls Clubs in the area, so when the opportunity came, we just created a Lift Zone for this (club)," Brown said.
The Inukai Club was one of three youth organizations chosen across the country for the Comcast partnership with HGTV — the television station that's committed to sponsoring various Hometown Makeovers for community resources like this. Hillsboro's organization was the only one on the West Coast selected for this round of funding.
In addition to the new space for teen programs, which will no longer have to share a crowded space with all the other after-school programs and activities offered at the club, the renovation also included a vibrant mural painted by local artist Arturo Villaseñor.
The mural depicts a colorful mosaic pattern that swirls around an image of Mount Hood, with Japanese characters for "Inukai" in the bottom-right corner, in honor of the family whose name is attached to the building. The artist took inspiration from club members and staff on what the mural should represent.
"I'm really excited and grateful for all the work that's gone into this," said Shannon Inukai-Cuffee, board member of the Inukai Family Foundation and daughter of Dick Inukai, the club's namesake. "I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Club members, staff, board members and sponsors came together to cut the large ribbon under a balloon arch at the space on Tuesday, signaling the grand opening of the new Teen Center.
"We hope this continues to encourage more involvement," said Lowena Kahana, vice president of programs for the B&G Clubs of Portland. "We hope this is the beginning of us continuing having the improvements … (to create) really high-functioning, high-representing spaces."
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