With a desire to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of children and teens, a longtime supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County recently gave a $500,000 gift to Invest In Kids, the organization’s capital campaign to build a new DeSoto Boys & Girls Club. The donor, who asked to remain anonymous, made the gift in support of the new Club’s commercial kitchen/culinary arts area, which will be a vital component of the Club’s Healthy Lifestyles programming.

The new Club’s commercial kitchen will better accommodate the cooking and nutritional programs that are offered. The current Club’s kitchen has limited space, which forces larger groups to use a multi-purpose room and tabletop cooking equipment. The new Club’s state-of-the-art culinary kitchen will provide future chefs of all ages with hands-on experience and lessons in nutrition, healthy eating, kitchen safety and proper food preparation. The new kitchen and its future programs will also serve as a way for members to explore career paths in the culinary arts. Plans include visits by local chefs who will share their expertise.

“The new Club’s increased member capacity from 240 to 600 kids daily, combined with the commercial kitchen and garden, will allow us to provide more of our community’s youth with valuable garden-to-table life skills that encourage healthy living,” said Dawn Stanhope, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “This is just one example of how the thoughtful generosity of our campaign donors will transform more young lives.”

To date, the Invest In Kids capital campaign has raised $5.7 million for the new Club (total campaign goal is $7.5 million). Recent gifts to the campaign have helped the organization reach the funding needed in order to begin construction in the spring of 2018. The new Club will replace the existing DeSoto Club, located at 5231 34th Street West in Bradenton. The current DeSoto Club, built five decades ago, will continue to operate while the new Club is being built on the east end of the property, located at the intersection of 53rd Avenue West and 30th Street West.

More information about the campaign and ways to give, contact Francine Diemer, Chief Development Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County at 941-761-2582 or via email to francine.diemer@bgcmanatee.org.

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