The Boys2Men Girls2Women Foundation hosted an event on Dec. 22 to support a $500,000 revitalization project for the newly established Downtown Fitness Center in Fresno.
The free event featured a Christmas toy give away, and gave donors opportunities to contribute to the project.
Donors, new members and families enjoyed hot chocolate, Christmas carols, and the One Accord band. Santa also came to give away toys to children who were pre-registered.
Organizers initially planned to give toys to about 120 kids. On the eve of the event, however, only about 60 toys were donated.
“Yesterday we had less than 50 percent of our goal,” said Joseph D. Perry, executive director at The Boys2Men Girls2Women Foundation. “We literally were on the verge of calling parents and saying ‘don’t come, we don’t have toys.’”
But help arrived at the last minute.
“I want to give two thumbs up to Les Schwab Tire company,” Perry said. “The manager came in with a truck loads of toys. They answered our prayers. We were all in tears.”
Phase one of the five-phase revitalization plan is set to be completed by Dec. 31. When all its phases are complete, the Fitness Center will open its doors at the old YMCA center, located at 1408 N. Street in downtown Fresno.
Perry said at least $500,000 is needed to rebuild the old YMCA building, which was damaged by vandals.
“Thieves helped themselves to everything from the copper wire to the heating unit to the electrical unit,” Perry said. “I mean everything was just stripped. We’ve invested thousands already to get phase one ready.”
The Downtown Fitness Center and The Boys2Men Girls2Women Foundation are focused on helping children academically and athletically.
“We have to emphasize the student-athlete in that correct chronology, to make athletes students first,” Perry said. “We need the community to come and help us. This area of downtown is destitute. The children need a place to go, where they can get hope, mentorship, education, get off the streets.”