After eight years of planning, the third police district's Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club No. 10, at 14th and Clifton streets NW, opened its doors to hundreds of inner-city youths last week.
Following an opening ceremony that included speeches by city politicians and several police officials, parents and potential club members inspected the $1.3 million facility, which was built with donations from corporations, civic organizations and area businesses. The new center, known as "3D-10," replaces two other club facilities, the old No. 10 club at 14th and Columbia streets NW and the No. 13 club at 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Inside the new club, which has a regulation-size gymnasium, a weight-lifting room, a kitchen, and separate showers and lockers for boys and girls, youths from the 14th Street corridor, Mount Pleasant, Logan Circle and Shaw neighborhoods will be able to participate in a variety of sports and arts and crafts activities. The club, run by a staff of 12 full-time workers and several part-time volunteers, will also offer tutorial programs staffed by volunteers from the University of the District of Columbia and Howard University. In addition, it has a small library for independent study.
"We want to provide as many services as possible to the members of the club," said D.C. police officer Howard Lynch, 3D-10's manager, who has worked with youth and the clubs for 13 years.
Police officials say the club is expected to serve more than 4,500 youngsters, most of whom are expected to come from parts of the city that have been plagued with crime and drug abuse.
"When we proposed the club in 1975, we considered two main factors," said Lt. Frederick Fisher, director of all the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs, which are administered by the police department. "We first looked at demographics in relationship to the amount of kids in that area, and then we looked at demographics in terms of amount of crime in a targeted area. There is no question that there is a great need for the club in that area."
Mae Thorne, an unemployed mother of three boys and a girl whose ages range from 11 to 17, lives in the 1400 block of W Street NW. She agreed that youngsters in her area needed the facility. "Around here, there is really no place for them to go and expend some of that energy," she said. "A lot of times, I'm almost afraid to let them out of the house because there is so much trouble they can get into. This club will be somewhat of a salvation for some of us parents, because at least we know they are going to a place where they can be involved in something positive."
Calvin Arrington, a 31-year-old father of three who lives in Clifton Terrace complex at 13th and Clifton streets NW, shares Thorne's feelings. "The closest place for a lot of these kids to go is . . . the recreation center on Kalorama Road. Between here and there, they can get into a lot of trouble. This new club is a lot closer. I'm really delighted that it's here because it will be a place for my kids to go without me having to worry about them getting in trouble."
After 43 years of gearing its programs to boys only, the Metropolitan Police Boys Club added Girls to its name in 1977. Girls still have not been included fully in many of the programs, however. Lynch hopes to change that.
"We are making a strong commitment to girls' programs at 3D-10," he said. "We will offer the traditional basketball, cheerleading and softball. But we will have arts and crafts, cooking and a sewing class for those who are interested in participating."
Delores Scales, a professional seamstress, is coordinating the sewing program. Scales donated one sewing machine, got another from a neighbor and organized 26 girls in the area to put on a bake sale, a car wash and a party to raise money to buy materials for the cheerleading uniforms they made for the club's opening ceremony.
"All these young ladies need is something to get them motivated and organized," said Scales, who lives in the 1400 block of Fairmont St. NW. "The club is very much needed in this area. The cheerleading program and the sewing program will give the girls something meaningful to do around here."
Scales' daughter, Letitia Cardwell, has volunteered to serve as president of 3D-10's parent association. Cardwell, mother of two and a recent graduate of Howard University, says she will initially focus on fund-raising.
"If we raise enough money for material, the girls can sew some of their school clothes," said Cardwell. "I think if the parents all work together, we can make this club into a positive thing for all the kids in this area."
As the ceremonies ended last week, Ricardo Epps remained behind, gazing at the inside of the structure. The 12-year-old Clifton Terrace apartment complex resident has been a member of the No. 10 boys club for five years. Now, he said, "We finally have a club we can call our own."