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The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor organization has been a major player in guiding area youths as they grow into responsible adults. That has come with support from many donors and partnerships with schools and government. It became even more important when kids needed a place to go for study during the pandemic. Now, a new arrangement announced this week takes that to a new level and is a win-win.

The Boys & Girls organization has taken over operation of the city’s Len Colla Recreation Center, while the city is taking charge of the soccer program that has been operated by the clubs for a number of years.

Len Colla Center, at Trekell Road and Fourth Street, serves a neighborhood with a high minority concentration. It is named for a late teacher at nearby Palo Verde Elementary School who had a major impact on neighborhood kids. One of his accomplishments was spearheading a cooperative effort to cover the irrigation canal in the area, removing a hazard.

The center was expanded several years ago with approval of a city bond issue. Now, the clubs will operate the center after school and during the summer as a means of expanding their youth service to more kids. The city will support the effort with cash payments and provide maintenance at the center but plans to save some money in the process. Meanwhile, hours of operation will be expanded. The city will pay an extra amount of $31,200 a year for three years to ensure services continue to neighborhood residents.

The soccer program was started by volunteers but has been managed effectively by the Boys & Girls Clubs in recent years, most recently at Grande Sports World. The city’s management represents an expansion of Casa Grande recreation services for kids.

The arrangement leverages the strengths of the city and Boys & Girls Clubs, working together to serve Casa Grande’s young people with efficiency, and that is a good thing.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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