After 25 years of serving Wellington’s youth, and more than eight years of tireless expansion efforts, the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club will open with a community-wide open house and celebration Sunday, April 28 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Sponsored by PNC, the event will mark the grand opening of the new 22,570-square-foot clubhouse (1080 Wellington Trace), which replaces the club’s small and outdated facility.
“We are hoping families from throughout Wellington will join us in this celebration,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County President & CEO Mary O’Connor. “It’s sure to be fun for everyone, as there will be club tours, bounce houses for the kids, a petting zoo and much more. Everyone is welcome, and we can’t wait to show off this beautiful new facility.”
The $3.6 million facility is a true public-private partnership. In addition to a $1.5 million gift from Neil Hirsch, both Palm Beach County and the Village of Wellington contributed to the construction costs with grants of $600,000 and $700,000 respectively. Other donors include Krishna and Nirmala Tripuraneni, Shekar and Ranjita Sharma, Julie and John Kime, Reed and Susan Kellner, Jeremy and Peggy Jacobs, Victoria McCullough, PNC, Patricia C. Evans and numerous others.
“Over the years, the old facility, due to its limited size, forced us to turn away children in need,” O’Connor said. “The new facility will enable us to serve hundreds of needy children in the years to come with incredible amenities including a full gym, computer room, dance studio, music studio, multiple game rooms, arts center and science lab. This is a long-awaited dream come true for the community’s young people, but particularly the teen population. We are so thankful to Neil and all of the generous donors who wanted to provide a supervised, fun and educational haven during the critical out-of-school hours to young people who might otherwise be left alone, afraid and at risk.”
Hirsch is the former chairman and CEO of Loanet Inc., which was acquired by SunGard in 2002. Prior to that, he was the former chairman and CEO of Telerate Inc., which was acquired by Dow Jones in 1990. Hirsch was elected to the Dow Jones board of directors and was a member of the Dow Jones Management Committee. He played high-goal polo with the White Birch team in 1994 and became a resident of Wellington in 1995. In 1999, Hirsch started the Black Watch polo team and played competitively with his team until 2009.
“I wanted to help because I know that many of the families in our community need the services the club provides,” Hirsch said. “Unless you know someone who has benefited from the club, you may not know what a lifesaver it is for families who are in need of a safe haven for their children.”
County Commissioner Jess Santamaria called the partnership a win-win situation for the community and the club.
“With resources tight, partnerships such as this are very important, as the services the club offers will provide youth with a wide variety of fun and educational options during their non-school hours,” Santamaria said. “By working together everybody wins, especially children who might otherwise go home to an empty house each day after school.”
O’Connor noted that the club was looking forward to continued support from the community.
“We anticipate the operational budget will need to grow from about $575,000 to $800,000 annually,” she said. “Now that the building is complete, we will once again be working with all of our friends throughout the village to continue our efforts to reach and serve as many children as possible. Together we will make it happen.”
The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club in Wellington will serve youth from six to 18 years of age and is one of 13 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Palm Beach County, which serve more than 6,000 children each year.
For additional information, call Kae Jonsons at (561) 683-3287, ext. 18.