As seen in article by Samantha Gholar in Sarasota Herald Tribune on October 5, 2023
ARCADIA — More than 100 community leaders and national representatives gathered for a first look at the long-awaited Louis and Gloria Flanzer Club, which will now serve as a gathering space for underserved youth and families in DeSoto County, during the dedication of the new Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties (BGCSDC) facility in Arcadia recently.
The club revealed its newest state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-foot space to excited children, local dignitaries, and president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Jim Clark, on Sept. 28 after five years of strategic planning for what leaders believe will be an impactful addition for DeSoto County youth.
The Flanzer Clubhouse features new classrooms, a stocked technology lab, an art studio, a commercial teaching and culinary kitchen, a food pantry that will share food and nutrition resources with local families and a multipurpose dining area. The Flanzer Club will also be available for local use outside of the Club’s operating hours making it a viable community asset.
ike Doyle, BGCSDC senior vice president of strategic initiatives, along with the club's CEO Bill Sadlo, agreed that the Flanzer campus project has been one of the organization's major focuses in recent years.
"This project was initially only going to be a gym renovation," Doyle said ahead of the dedication ceremony. "However, the board had good vision and we decided if we are going to do this, let’s just do it right."
Named in honor of longtime children and youth advocates Louis and Gloria Flanzer, the Arcadia campus pays homage to the Flanzer family that worked in the Arcadia community as advocates for youth development and education for years prior to their passing.
Now, the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, led by co-trustees Dr. Dean Hautamaki and Eric Kaplan, has opened the facility with the help of local community leaders who wanted to see the Flanzer's vision for the community they loved and served come to fruition.
"The Flanzer Club is a great example of what happens when the city, county government, and a nonprofit organization work together to take something and make it better to improve the lives of the community members," said Sadlo.
The Florida Department of Education designated the site a 21st Century Community Learning Center, serving students from Memorial Elementary School, Nocatee Elementary School, West Elementary School, and DeSoto Middle School.
Community collaboration benefits DeSoto youth
From what was once one small building on School Avenue in Arcadia that served fewer than 100 local youth, the Arcadia Boys and Girls Club Smith Brown campus is no longer just one aging industrial building. The Flanzer Clubhouse is the first phase of the multi-phase construction project to enhance the lives of DeSoto youth and families.