The cold, rainy weather did not keep the community from celebrating the grand opening of the new Youth Facility in Precinct 2.
Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu was joined by local, state and county elected officials and department heads for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new center which will house the Boys and Girls Club of San Juan.
The project is a partnership between Precinct 2, the City of San Juan, the Boys & Girls Club or Pharr, and the Hidalgo County Urban County Program, which funded the project for an estimated $750,000.
Commissioner Cantu, who was a Boys & Girls Club child growing up, knew that besides drainage and road repairs his Precinct needed more places for local children to gather after school. His office began working with the city and the club to create a place that would serve the children in the north part of the Precinct.
"Children in the north part of Precinct 2 now have a place where they can get a hot meal and do their homework in a safe environment without feeling the pressures of life on the streets," said Cantu.
The 5,925-square-foot Boys and Girls Club includes two spacious learning centers, an arts and crafts room, a teenagers' game room, a youth game room, a technology center, a full kitchen and cafeteria.
Alfredo "Freddy" Mata, Jr., CEO for the Boys & Girls Club of Pharr & San Juan, stressed to the attendees that this new center is for everyone, no matter what their socio or economic background.
"This is a place for everyone to come and interact with the community," said Mata. "There's no division here."
Among the speakers at the ribbon cutting was Cristian Gonzalez, the 2017 Boys & Girls Youth of the Year, who shared his story on how he went from being a Boys & Girls Club child to becoming an official staff member at the club. He credited the Boys & Girls Club with helping him learn and grow, and keep him away from trouble.
"Being a part of Boys & Girls Club gave me a purpose," said Gonzalez. "I looked up to the staff members and now the children that go here look up to me and I want to set a good example for them."
The new facility opened its doors in the beginning of November and is currently about 75 percent full membership.