PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — An outlet for children is available once again as the Boys and Girls Club of Pekin welcomed kids back into the building Tuesday.
John Denning, the club’s CEO, said over the past few weeks they’ve offered alternatives activities for kids online, but now they’re ready to have them back in the facility.
“We’re glad to finally be able to get open,” Denning said. “We miss the kids we’ve been doing a lot of online stuff but it’s not the same as getting the kids actually in the building.”
Denning said the club closed March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said since then a big focus has been on cleaning, sanitizing, and extra maintenance to make sure the building would be safe for its young attendees.
“We have the sanitizers when you come in, we have the face masks for the kids,” Denning said. “When they come in they have to get their temperature checked.”
On opening day, the club welcomed back 12 kids. Denning said this is a big decrease from its summer average of 135 kids. However, those kids that did come back Tuesday, like Brayden Thomas, said they were happy to be out of the house again.
“It feels good, I haven’t been here in a while,” Thomas said. “I haven’t really been out of the house much.”
Denning said the club has lost a bit of funding since its closure. He also said registration is down, but he hopes to regain both with fundraisers and the return of some their sports programs.
“We’re hoping to keep growing and get more and more kids as this passes,” Denning said.
He said they’re currently open with reduced hours but will expand as the state moves closer to phase four of the governor’s reopening plan.