Duluth couple's donation a gift to city's low-income kids

The official opening to-dayof the state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center is expected to usher in a new era of helping low-income youth in Duluth.

New boys and girls club opens
Keeli Valdez, 11, plays bumper pool at the new Boys and Girls Club this week. [Amanda Hansmeyer /]

The official opening to-dayof the state-of-the-art Boys and Girls Club at the Duluth Heritage Sports Center is expected to usher in a new era of helping low-income youth in Duluth.

"We mostly serve a one-mile radius of our sites," said Todd Johnson, execu-tive director of Northland Boys and Girls Clubs. "With this one, we're look-ing to expand that."

In large part, that will come from the drop-in traffic of young people coming to the Lincoln Park/West End sports center for high school and youth hockey games.

How could they resist?

The new 12,000-square-foot club on the center's second floor has a large game room with a 25-foot climbing wall. There's an arts and crafts room and a learning center with Internet access. Members can get help with home-work and tutoring. They'll have access to activities in the Heritage Sports Cen-ter, including a hockey rink and an indoor artifi-cial-turf field for playing soccer, baseball, football and tennis. A basketball court also is likely.


"It's a phenomenal fa-cility," Johnson said. "It provides an opportunity for them to experience something they wouldn't ordinarily experience."

The number of kids who come to the club tends to ebb and flow, youth coor-dinator Erika Burke said. Sometimes there are just a handful; other times the place is swarming, she said.

On Wednesday after-noon, just a few kids were rambling around the wide-open spaces.

Jayden Elston, 10, was enjoying his third trip to the club. He likes to stay "as long as my mom will let me," he said -- time enough to work on his homework and attack the dartboard.

Seven-year-old Caitlin Stingley was at the club for her first time, applying donated Crayolas to a coloring book and working on her homework.

"How do you spell rab-bit?" she asked Burke. "How do you spell water?"

Without a $1 million gift from Dave and Lisa Gold-berg of Duluth, the new Boys and Girls Club never would have happened.

"His gift is the reason we're there," Johnson said.


Dave Goldberg, a busi-ness owner, and his wife, Lisa, are community phi-lanthropists. In 2003, they donated $400,000 to the University of Minnesota Duluth to help its athletic teams become more com-petitive and $100,000 in the late 1990s for basketball scholarships.

When Goldberg was ap-proached about the Heri-tage Sports Center project, he felt the focus on youth hockey was too narrow. When a Boys and Girls Club was added, the Gold-bergs pledged $1 million.

"Low-income kids need all the help they can get, and the Boys and Girls Club has done a wonderful job in the past in helping them become good citi-zens," said Goldberg, who saw the project as a way to give back to the commu-nity.

Boys and Girls Clubs serve kids from all over the city, but because of the neighborhoods in which they're located, most come from low-income families, Johnson said. For many youth, the Boys and Girls Club is a second home, providing after-school programs and stability, he said.

The Goldbergs' gift and $200,000 from the Paul Staudenmaier Boys and Girls Club of Duluth Foundation covered the $700,000 construction costs, with the remaining money and other contribu-tions going toward club operations, Johnson said.

The new club is the third Boys and Girls Club in the Duluth's Lincoln Park community; also in the neighborhood are a teen center and a club for younger kids. One of them will close in the next few years, he said.

News Tribune staff writer Janna Goerdt contributed to this report.

About today's grand opening


-- A new Boys and Girls Club in the Duluth Heritage Sports Center, 120 S. 30th Ave. W., will have its grand opening from 5-7 p.m. today. The public is welcome to tour the site and learn about the programming. The facility is on the second floor of the sports center's lobby.

-- For more information, call 727-1549.

-- Club hours will be 3-9 p.m. weekdays, with hours varying on non-school days. In time, the club will be open on Saturdays.

-- Membership fees are $10 a year for youth ages 6 to 18. No family income restrictions apply. Members also can use other club sites, including the two others in the Twin Ports.

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