The Boys & Girls Club of Venice was established in 1968, as a VISTA project on Venice Beach. When VISTA was terminated, community leaders recognized the need for an ongoing permanent entity that would meet the needs of local youth. As a result, the Club and the Club’s adjacent Thrift Shop, a Venice landmark, operated for the next 25 years from a converted duplex home on Lincoln Boulevard.
In 1994, the Boys & Girls Club of Venice Board of Directors determined that a larger facility was needed in order to serve more kids more efficiently. They committed to initiating a capital campaign that would replace the converted duplex with a fully-equipped Boys & Girls Club building. In the interim, 1994 earthquake damage resulted in the Club duplex structure being condemned. As a result, Club activities moved to the Westminster Senior Center, the Vera Davis Center and Venice High School. Under these challenging circumstances Club programs flourished in spite of limited space, serving approximately 500 youth annually. Meanwhile, a new Club Thrift Shop opened on Centinela Boulevard.
Between 1994 and the opening of the new Club’s Phase I in September 1999, the capital expense to build the Club escalated from $2.8 million to $5.2 million. This was due to increased expenses over time and the unexpected requirement to add subterranean parking to the structure. The latter component was further complicated when water was struck, adding Coastal Commission involvement and an additional $1.2 million cost.
The Club, during the opening ceremony, was honored to welcome LA County Supervisor Yaroslavsky, LA Mayor Riordan, District Attorney Garcetti, Council Member Galanter, LAPD Captain Williams, Assemblyman Nakano, and representatives from state and national legislators, Bowen and Kuykendall.
We take this opportunity to thank all of our friends, too numerous to mention, for their support, patience and faith during those challenging times. The Club now belongs to them, to you and to the entire community. We are committed to do everything we can as we work together to make the Boys & Girls Club of Venice a leader in providing positive, character-building programs for youth.
The James A. Collins Branch