New Chippewa Falls Boys and Girls Club nears opening date

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisc. (WEAU) - After years of discussion and planning, doors are set to open next month at the first ever Boys and Girls Club in Chippewa Falls.

As a working mom, Michelle Heinzen of Eau Claire said finding the Boys and Girls Club about six years ago helped her kids stay active, taught them valuable lessons, and kept them off the couch.

"I needed something for them to do after school because I work all day until 5:00," Heinzen said. "We switched over to the club because they have a lot of wonderful things to offer ... They provided leadership skills. Both my kids were junior staff members as they got to be older."

The organization is growing to reach more kids, when the new club opens in Chippewa Falls.

"It's a fun, structured environment for the kids. Really we just want to help them become positive community citizens that give back to the Chippewa Falls community," Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley Director of Resource Development Tracey Smiskey said.

With donations from area organizations, the club is moving into the Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology on Grand Avenue, offering more than 40 programs from cooking to computers for kids ages eight to 18.

"I'm hoping that we outgrow it, and that down the road it's 60, 70, 100 kids that are all becoming better adults and improving their lives," club board member Jerry Jacobson said.

"It gives the kids something to do after school, other than just hanging out and playing video games. They have the homework help and the leadership and they go on field trips, so they get to see a lot of what goes on in the community. I think it's a great, great program," Heinzen said.

The club is set to open in late Dec. Another club in Menonomie could open by next summer after finding a location, Smiskey said.

For information on how to join, donate or volunteer call the club at 715-855-0081.

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