The new Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club was built with significant community input; offers expansive programming and opportunity for West Side youth.
There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club last Friday, the first newly-built club by Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago in a generation.
Spanning three stories and over 27,000 square feet, this modern facility will serve youth from Austin, West Garfield Park, West Humboldt Park, and nearby areas. Situated alongside Chicago’s new Joint Public Safety Training Academy and various eateries, the club provides a secure haven for kids aged five to 18+. The cutting-edge amenities include a Technology Center of Excellence, a commercial teaching kitchen, a teen center, outdoor play space, an NBA-sized basketball court, and more, encouraging friendship and skill development.
“We know how important it is for Chicago’s youth to have access to safe and enriching environments in their neighborhood. The new Rusu-McCartin Club was made possible by our incredibly generous donors and supporters, and it was built by and for the community. Through collaborations with community members, young people, and local leaders across Austin, West Garfield Park, and West Humboldt Park, we have come together to create a truly transformational space for our children and teens,” said BGCC President and CEO Michael Crowley.
The Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club is also home to:
- The Nikki Allen Learning Center, which gives Club members a space for hands-on educational enrichment and academic support, as well as leadership and civic engagement opportunities.
- The Christopher Family Teaching Kitchen, where youth will develop their knowledge of nutrition and learn new recipes from culinary experts.
- “Mimi’s Meadow,” a rooftop garden and programming space named after former BGCC President and CEO Mimi LeClair.
“Not only does the Rusu-McCartin Boys & Girls Club provide a safe and educational space for West Side youth, but it is also a place for relationship-building, listening and collaboration. We are deliberately choosing to no longer be bound by the barriers that divide us. This Club is a shining example of how bold ideas can shape our shared future,” said 37th Ward Alderwoman Emma Mitts.
The Rusu-McCartin Club’s development involved community youth voices throughout its journey. In 2022, the Rusu-McCartin Club Youth Council, comprising over 20 members aged 12 to 24, was established to incorporate youthful perspectives into planning, design, programming and partnerships. Collaborating with BGCC staff, volunteers and community representatives, the Youth Council prioritized Chicago youth preferences, shaping the Club’s essence and offerings.
Tevin Haynes, the inaugural Club Director for the Rusu-McCartin Club, brings over 10 years of mentoring experience, having served as a dean and assistant site director in youth-focused organizations. Raised in the Austin community, Tevin is deeply connected to the club’s mission.
The Club opened its doors for a soft launch of programming this summer, hosting over 100 young participants for Summer Camp. Activities included field trips to notable Chicago venues like the Garfield Park Conservatory, Field Museum, The Chicago Theatre, and Brookfield Zoo. Campers also engaged in competitive games, STEM projects, dance sessions, academic skill-building, and enjoyed the city skyline from the rooftop.
With generous contributions from George and Cindy Rusu, along with Bart McCartin and Katie Sakach, this Club will provide top-tier programming for countless children and stand as a lasting community asset. McCartin’s connection with BGCC started two decades ago as a volunteer and now he holds the position of Chairman Emeritus on the Board of Directors. The Rusus, long-standing supporters of BGCC’s mission, bring their significant Chicago ties to the endeavor.