When the decision was made to build a new Duneland Boys & Girls Club in Chesterton, the goal was to provide a fun and safe after-school and summer facility for more kids to attend. Since opening the Club’s “new doors” in April 2017, membership has increased and average daily attendance of youth visiting the Club has more than doubled.
Every space in the Duneland Club was either built new or renovated to enhance the Club Experience – except one space, the Club’s Tween Center. This room is specifically for youth in grades 6 – 8 to meet with friends, concentrate on homework, develop community service projects, or just to take a break from other program spaces with younger kids.
“When we opened the doors to our new Club,” states Ron Ranta, club director, “we knew that the Tween Center was not quite up to the standard of what we wanted for our new Club and knew we had to provide better amenities for this particular youth population.”
Enter the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. This community service group, committed to making communities better for Northwest Indiana residents, has a longtime relationship with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. As they meet twice monthly, the Odd Fellows contacted the Duneland Club and asked if they could hold their meeting at the Club complete with a Club tour. Awed by the newly renovated and enhanced Club, they had quite a different feeling when they entered the Tween Center.
“The Tween Center was well-loved, that was obvious,” claims Arthur Craig, member of the Odd Fellows. “But it didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the Club. The furniture was a little more worn, technology was not new or up to standard, and the entire feel of the room was outdated. We wanted Club members of this age group to have their room new and modern too – just like the rest of the Club. We asked for a proposal to make this room special for Club Tweens,” Craig states further.
That is exactly what the Duneland Club did. Working closely with Brian Tegt, chair of the Club’s Advisory Board and the rest of the Advisory Board members, a proposal was presented to the Odd Fellows complete with bids for new furniture, new paint, new flooring, and new technology.
“We wanted to give our Tweens the world,” said Ron Ranta, club director. “The Odd Fellows helped tweak our proposal and then we went to work!”
On August 21, the Club held a Ribbon Cutting of the new Tween Center as a way to thank the Odd Fellows. It was the first time Club members saw their new room and they were in awe with several Club members asking, “is this room for just for us?!”
And about the name of the service group? Service members explained that the Odd Fellows is one of the oldest community service groups forming in the 1800’s. At this time, masonry was the main trade and all other trades were called the “odd trades.” That is how the Independent Order of Odd Fellows came to be. Sticking with their name and keeping with long-standing tradition, the Odd Fellows continue to provide resources to organizations that are making positive change within our communities.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana has been opening doors to GREAT FUTURES for Porter and Lake County youth for 63 years! Clubs are open after school and provide great places for youth in grades K-12 to meet friends and have fun while in a safe, supervised environment. Clubs are open during holidays and in the summer. Annual membership is only $35.00. For information on membership, volunteer opportunities, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact your local Club by calling (219) 464-7282 or visiting bgcgreaternwi.org. Great Futures Start HERE.