Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has received a $300,000 gift that will allow the organization to reopen one of its north side sites after a lease dispute caused the club to close in August, the organization announced today.
The gift from Keith Mardak, chief executive officer of Hal Leonard Corp., and his wife Mary Vandenberg, a former Hal Leonard vice president and current shareholder, will allow the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club at 4834 N. 35th St. to continue operating.
Mardak, who’s served on the organization’s board for 22 years, and Vandenberg donated $1.5 million to help open the club location in 2004.
The organization said it has come to a new lease agreement with landlord Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ that will allow the club to offer programming at the Daniels-Mardak site through August 2024. The $300,000 gift subsidizes a portion of the operating costs at the location.
The site will begin serving all members again on Oct. 9.
“We’re back,” said Vincent Lyles, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. “And the reason we’re back is because of the generosity and great spirit of longtime trustee and supporter Keith Mardak.”
Mardak said he was moved to take action when he heard the club was closing.
“I was very proud of this club,” he said. “To see it close was a tragedy. It’s vital to the neighborhood and we had to bring it back, we did.”
Members of the Daniels-Mardak site were told in August that they could move to any of the organization’s other locations and staff members were retained at other club sites. Georgia Isaac, the mother of three boys who participate in Daniels-Mardak club programs, said that forced her family to face some difficult decisions.
“(The boys) weren’t sure where their friends were going to be,” she said.
Isaac said she’s glad her sons will be able to stay in their neighborhood club and maintain relationships with their friends and staff members.
“Kids like structure,” she said. “So having this and being able to see the same staff over and over, it’s trust for them. They trust the staff. They’re able to sit down and talk to the staff. If they had a bad day at school, they can talk to the staff about that.”
The new lease allots more space for club programming than before and allows Boys & Girls Clubs shared access to 10 more rooms, the organization said. The club serves about 180 youth during the school year.
Leading up to the re-opening, the organization is remodeling three rooms and installing additional security cameras.