Neighbors work to reopen Parkland Boys and Girls Club

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Neighbors are still reeling after a wave of violence rocked Louisville's West End. Monday, a ray of hope as efforts to reopen a closed Boys and Girls club at 32nd and Garland in the heart of Parkland came to light. This is just a piece of the puzzle, but it's still a solution to work against the violence.

Residents have told WAVE 3 the kids need something to do. Some have suggested 'why not reopen the Parkland Boys and Girls Club?' WAVE 3 has learned efforts to do just that are underway.

Lolitha Gabriel and her family moved to Parkland about a month ago. She was home when the violence erupted Thursday in her neighborhood that ended in 3 deaths. Gabriel said she refuses to live in fear.

"I will never move away from my community," said Gabriel. "I will never run away from a problem. I will try to do so much as try to help it."

Steps away from a memorial to shooting victim Makeba Lee is the Parkland Boys and Girls Club. Previously operated by the Salvation Army, it closed late last year for financial reasons.

Now, "We hope to finalize and close in about 3 weeks and then are goal would be to actually reopen the club by the end of June," Jennifer Helgeson, President and CEP of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana.

Helgeson said it's been in the works for months. Working with other organizations and the city, Helgeson said the need in some areas, including Parkland, is there. This comes as a community seeks solutions to violence.

"I definitely think it's part of the puzzle. But, I also believe that it really takes the whole community involvement in working together," Helgeson said.

After hearing the plans, Gabriel said "I'm just so happy that they're opening it up. I'm so glad that the community is coming together to make a difference through everything that's happened."

Work still needs to be done, such as cleaning up the grounds. Monday, a flurry of activity could be seen at the currently closed club. Dozens of volunteers completed several tasks including mowing the yards, picking up trash and debris, trimming hedges and beautifying the grounds of the club. Dazia Stamps, of Louisville, was one of the volunteers.

"I feel like it's for a good cause. For not just me to get out and do something," Stamps said. "But, knowing that I am helping somebody else become better than what they are now."

Once opened, the club will have a gym, after school tutoring services a computer lab, an art lab and nightly meals for youth at the club.

"I think it's just of utmost importance that we all get together and we unite and we say 'You know what? There are different options for these kids and we need to do whatever it takes to step in and give it to them," Helgeson said.

"Hopefully it'll make a change, a positive change," Gabriel said. "Maybe it'll look into people's live and realize life is too short. Just try to end the violence."

The Boys and Girls club will need volunteers to help clean up and paint the building in time for their target opening in late June. To find out how to help, call the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana at (502) 585-5437.

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