Facility Profile - April 2004
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Shared Interest

Richmond Capital One Club in Richmond, Va.

By Sutton R. Stokes

These gifts put construction costs for what would now be called the Capital One Club in the black, but the question of how to fund about $120,000 in annual operating costs remained open. That's when Johnson and Brady pulled out a map and decided to get creative.

"We typically look at drawing kids from a mile radius around [a] facility," Brady explains. As it turned out, the site for the new club was less than two blocks away from the boundary between the city and neighboring Henrico County. "So, when we put a compass on a map and drew a mile diameter, we found that we would be serving a lot of kids in neighborhoods that were in Henrico County," he says.

Johnson contacted his counterpart Frank Thornton on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. Since the center would serve youth from both jurisdictions, Thornton says he quickly saw that a cross-jurisdictional partnership only made sense.

"Just because we are two different jurisdictions has nothing to do with where children go and congregate," Thornton says. "It's an imaginary line, as far as they're concerned."

Convincing his constituents to sign off on spending county money downtown turned out to be relatively easy as well.

"I don't think that we had any major obstacles with this particular initiative," Thornton says. "I was thinking that some might be created, but I didn't see them."

Looking back, Thornton isn't surprised that his constituents saw value in the project. After all, he asks, "What is more redemptive than a Boys and Girls Club, where you are molding character for the future? It's an investment that is really priceless."

As for the children, the club has 182 members so far. Of these, Club Director Jerome Levisy estimates that he sees a core group of 50 on a daily basis, with around 150 stopping by once a week. Most of the regulars are between 9 and 14 years old. The club's offerings include snacks and meals, Boys and Girls Clubs' well-known character-building programs, organized sports, social time, and the opportunity to meet and get to know adult role models.

Reflecting on the partnership that made all of this possible, as well as the turf issues and jealousies that can sink projects like this one, Tiwari argues that youth service agencies and organizations can't afford to be territorial.

"If you have the philosophy that you are a facilitator, not a provider," Tiwari says, "then you are open to exploring new ways to fulfill needs."

Johnson couldn't agree more.

"That's the only way it's going to work," he says. "It has to be a shared interest, and when you talk about the conflict between urban vs. suburban, especially when you share jurisdictional lines where people don't necessarily adhere to those lines, no political jurisdiction can really do it all alone. We are interdependent."