Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (BGCGM) announced it will close one of its north side clubs at the end of the year in a move that reflects the organization’s shift away from property management and ownership.
The organization plans to close the Augusta M. LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club at 2739 N 15th St., which is in the northern section of the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, at the end of December, a few months earlier than it originally planned. BGCGM has been leasing the club’s building from the Milwaukee Rescue Mission for the past five years with the understanding that that it would shutter the space at the end of the lease in March 2022.
The organization said in an announcement Monday, August 30, 2021, that it requested to close the branch instead at the end of December 2021 to avoid disruptions for club members in the middle of their spring semester.
BGCGM said the 14 staff members currently working at the LaVarnway location are guaranteed positions at another club location, and all 88 youth enrolled there can continue their memberships at other locations. The organization runs 44 club locations in the city, eight of which are within 2 miles of LaVarnway. The North Division club is less than a halfmile away.
“This was not a quick or easy decision,” said Kathy Thornton-Bias, president and chief executive officer of the BGCGM. “It’s a move though that we are prepared for and reminds us that the heart of our mission lies within our amazing people.”
The club closure ties back to the BGCGM board of trustees’ decision in 2017 to shift the organization away from property management and ownership. The organization sold the LaVarnway club building to Milwaukee Rescue Mission that year and agreed to rent the facility from MRM for five years.
MRM owns the entire building and occupies a separate portion of the building for their school and community programs.
MRM will finalize its plans for the space in the coming weeks, BGCGM said.
BGCGM is coordinating field trips for members and their families to visit nearby clubs for open house days beginning in September.
“Though this is a transition for our club members and our LaVarnway staff, we are confident everyone involved will continue to benefit from and enjoy the opportunities the clubs provide,” said Thornton-Bias. “Though the purpose of the bricks and mortar is evolving, the impact of those who brought the building to life will not be diminished.”
In August 2020, BGCGM closed its Pieper-Hillside Boys & Girls Club, located at 611 W. Cherry St., in the city’s Hillside neighborhood.