Boys and Girls Clubs get spacious new teen center in Banning
By Craig Shultz
When Amy Herr was growing up in Banning in the 1980s, she and the other teenagers she knew complained about having nothing to do there.
“There have never been organized activities for kids,” said Herr, 50. “There wasn’t anything to keep kids busy after school.”
So when she could do something about that she did, joining forces with then-City Councilwoman Barbara Hanna to found the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Gorgonio Pass in 2005.
The organization, which had five participants the first day, now numbers 750 members. And after years of working out of a small building at Roosevelt Williams Park in Banning, it has a new Teen Center near Banning City Hall, which opened in June and was recently dedicated.
The new headquarters is one of 10 Boys & Girls Clubs facilities stretching east from Yucaipa to Cabazon. The others are all based at schools.
“The board and I decided it was time to look into different options,” said Herr, the club’s executive director. “This building came up for sale and it fit the bill.”
The 6,000-square-foot building at 240 W. Ramsey St. has a long history. Records were destroyed in the 1960s during a fire at City Hall, Herr said, but it’s believed the building housed the city’s first Safeway market in the 1930s and was later home to Sears and a number of churches and, most recently, a ballet studio.
“I loved the history of the building,” Herr said. “You can feel all that stuff.”
That said, the building has been gutted and rebuilt to house the group’s administrative offices as well as rooms for music and video production, a computer lab, kitchen and a large open space for group activities.
And even in today’s video-driven world, Herr said pool, pingpong and foosball are popular with the teenagers who visit.
“Their lives are […]