The Santa Monica Boys & Girls Clubs, in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), has launched a major renovation project of the Club’s Jack and Cindy Jones Youth Center, located in the Mar Vista Gardens public housing development. A ground-breaking ceremony was held to officially commence the renovation and fundraising campaign that will benefit more than 600 children living in the Mar Vista Gardens community and the surrounding areas who utilize the center.

The groundbreaking held on April 6 at the site on Marionwood Drive in Culver City saw more than 40 community members in attendance. Remarks were heard from donors Jack and Cindy Jones; Club member Leilani Stopani and her mother, Mirna Arias; Douglas Guthrie, HACLA president and CEO; as well as Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Monin and representatives from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, HACLA.

The Club’s operations in Mar Vista Gardens are being funded by a $1 million donation by John D. “Jack” and Cindy Jones, and the renovations are funded by $1.7 million secured by HACLA. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Jones will contribute another $100,000 in matching funds, calling on the philanthropic community to raise $100,000. The additional $200,000 will provide the new Boys & Girls Club with needed furnishings and equipment for the sports, technology, arts, music and other programs offered at the club.

The new Boys & Girls Club branch and fundraising challenge were inspired by the Jones’ vision and passion to help children. “All children deserve a safe, positive learning environment,” Jack Jones said. “We want to give each child the opportunity to live up to their potential to be the best they can be.”

Renovation plans for the site include a complete building retrofit to the existing 7,265-square-foot structure and a 1,310-square-foot addition to accommodate a new art room and education center, along with a music center, practice room and sound booth in the existing teen center. The building also houses a full gym, technology center, recreation center, kitchen, restrooms and offices, which will be updated during the renovation.

In 2012, HACLA was faced with closing the facility due to city budget cuts. As a strategy to keep it open, HACLA solicited bids from nonprofits to operate the facility for the benefit of the community, and the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Clubs won the contract. “The partnership with HACLA has been extraordinary. They have been a joy to work with,” said Jack Jones, who has served on the Clubs’ board since 2009.

“HACLA is working to establish a framework for housing and education partnerships that place emphasis on early childhood initiatives and out-of-school learning opportunities,” said Douglas Guthrie, president and CEO of HACLA. “These partnerships support the agency’s goal to ensure that we can engage our youth in productive educational and recreational activities in a safe and healthy environment while working to decrease the education gap. We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and thrilled to be able to provide a state-of-the-art facility for our youngest residents.”

The renovations are expected to be completed in October 2015, but the Jack and Cindy Jones Youth Center will be open during renovations.

“The Club’s mission is to serve the children who need us most. That’s why we are asking our friends and the community to help us raise the additional funds to help these children receive the support and mentoring they need to succeed,” Jack Jones said.

The Jack and Cindy Jones Youth Center supports more than 600 children living in the Mar Vista Gardens complex and the surrounding areas, by providing services during non-school hours, where kids ages 6-18 can receive tutoring, develop social skills, have access to technology and participate in sports, healthy lifestyle programs and leadership and community service projects.

For more information, visit www.smbgc.org.

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