NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Although times have changed, one thing remains constant at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee. "It has always been about providing a safe space," said CEO Eric Higgs.
On St. Patrick’s Day the organization celebrated 120 years of providing that safe space for children across the state.
"Now back in 1903 it was the Boys Club," said Higgs. "It actually was the Boys Club and believe it or not it did not have our young ladies join until '89."
Today the organization provides programs for all kids ages 5 to 18. Over the years the organization has seen great success, currently serving more than five-thousand kids in the area.
"If we can keep our teens here until they're 18, 100% are graduating from high school," said Higgs. "We then have some pretty strong track records that over 80% are going on and finishing post secondary training and education."
So what's the secret to the club's success? Some will tell you it's making sure that kids want to come back. In order to keep doing that, the club is about to invest $2 million in renovations for it North Nashville location on 16th Avenue North.
"So this effort is going to include a total renovation of all the space that we have, it's about 15,000 square feet, and then we're going to add on 3,500 square feet for a teen center," said Higgs.
The new center will include a tech space and teaching kitchen, offering lessons in coding, music and culinary arts.
"I mean I think it's one of the greatest gifts we can give the organization which is to say that we still believe in empowering young people, we still believe in empowering them with the best," said Higgs.
As the club continues to face changes, its mission stays the same as it works to serve Middle Tennessee children for another 120 years to come.