Boys and Girls Clubs of Appalachia leaders expect new facilities to be ready by fall

HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) – In July 2021, we told you about an expansion of Appalachian Boys and Girls Clubs.

After some delay, club officials said construction equipment was in place and a fall opening date was up in the air.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Appalachia CEO Kateena Haynes said she waited for news of a new facility for more than a decade until the call came.

“I was working from home that day and they called and they were jumping up and down and there was so much excitement,” she said.

Plans and expectations for the project had been changing continuously since 2007.

“It’s all moving slower than we wanted it to be, but it’s all moving better than we anticipated,” Haynes said.

Final plans show a mixed-use facility in Harlan.

“Gym is going to be a game changer for us because we’re going to have program facilities,” Haynes said. “We will be able to double the number of children we serve.”

The new space will allow for the expansion of the popular nutrition program.

“We don’t just feed the kids here at the club, we feed the kids all over the community as well,” Haynes explained. “And we do that with a stove, air fryers, microwave and we make things work and that’s what we’ve been doing for a long time.”

In the fall, the organization will have a full commercial kitchen and a real cafeteria to replace the makeshift one in the art room of the existing buildings.

“And the kids will all be able to sit together like one big family and it’s going to be awesome,” Haynes said.

There are currently three Boys and Girls Club facilities serving approximately 2,500 children and a variety of after-school programs.

Haynes hopes to expand the program across eastern Kentucky.

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