About 100 people gathered at the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys & Girls Club in Arcadia on Wednesday, May 26, to celebrate the completion and dedication of the expansion that includes; the newly named Peace River Citrus Products, Inc. Health and Fitness Center, which is the home of the Coach Richard Bowers Court, the Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation Playground and the Ashley Coone Pavilion.
This phase of the expansion included a renovation of the historic Smith-Brown Recreation Center. The recreation center had been closed for over sixteen years due to destruction from Hurricane Charlie in 2004. With lead support from the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, and a closing gift from Bill & Mary Ann Becker and Peace River Citrus Products Inc. the organization transformed the structure into a multi-purpose gymnasium for youth with designated space for physical activities, project-based learning and enrichment programs that further fosters their personal development, that will ultimately empower hundreds of youth to achieve their full potential.
“Thanks to this generous gift from Bill & Mary Ann Becker and Peace River Citrus Products Inc. the multi-purpose gymnasium will welcome thousands of local youth ages 6 through 18 for years to come,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.
Peace River Citrus Products Inc. is an independent and privately owned, Florida-based citrus processor that has been offering a range of citrus products and services to major national brands and private label producers since 1991. With roots in Arcadia, the company is dedicated to the growth and success of the community and its future leaders.
“We are excited to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties on the most significant philanthropic effort in Arcadia’s history,” said Fran Becker, Senior Vice President of Peace River Citrus Products, Inc.
The facility will offer programs that focus on Boys & Girls Clubs’ core disciplines including Character and Leadership Development, Health and Life Skills, Sports, Fitness, and Recreation. All programs are designed to empower youth to excel in school, become leaders, adopt healthy habits and plan for success after high school graduation.
“It has been so amazing to watch the transformation of the gymnasium. Our Club members cannot wait to utilize this space,” said Sofia Gilot, Club Director of the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys & Girls Club.
To honor the legacy of local trailblazer, Mr. Richard Bowers, Jr., his is name is embedded in the court, of the very gym that he coached and mentored so many young people, over 50 years ago. Richard Bowers, Jr., devoted his 43-year career in education to help children and teens across DeSoto County reach their full potential. Thanks to the generosity of The Gardener Foundation they have chosen to recognize all of Commissioner Ashley Coone’s hard work and commitment to this project, by naming the pavilion in her honor and a generous gift from the Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation funded the playground.
The renovation is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2021. The third and final phase of the project will begin in mid-2021, starting with a 10,000 square foot addition to the gymnasium. The new structure will include a full-service kitchen, classrooms, conference room, offices and parking lot extension. The organization’s goal is to have a completely renovated and fully operating Club by Summer 2022.
To date, the organization has raised $3 million from private donors, foundations and community partners to support this capital project. Key capital supporters include the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, Keith D. Monda Family, The Gardener Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Judith Ammerman Brielmaier, the late Jack Urfer, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, James M. Doss Charitable Foundation, Bill & Mary Ann Becker/Peace River Citrus Products, Inc., The Mosaic Company, Carol McCloud and Bucket Fillers, Janice S. Kelly Memorial Foundation, Arcadia Rotary Club, Burruss Foundation, Berlin Foundation and Alico Citrus. Lead construction partners include Halfacre Construction, PGT Innovations and Hoyt Architects.