Breaking News
More () »

Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club holds groundbreaking of $3 million expansion

The Jeffrey Unit has been closed since November 23. Monday, a ceremony was held, breaking ground for the expansion and renovation of the renamed club.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club (FSBGC) has been a staple of the community for nearly a century. Over the years, clubs have undergone renovations, but the oldest club without a facelift has been the Jeffrey Unit on the corner of North O and North 50th Streets.

Monday, the first step to changing that was made.

The club is planned to reopen near the end of 2023 with two new "futsal" courts (multi-use sport courts), two new wings to provide children with ample space for S.T.E.A.M. activities, a new roof, and an updated HVAC over the gym.

In addition to the renovation and expansion, the Jeffrey Unit will also have a new name honoring the man who dedicated more than four decades of service to the organization.

"It's still kind of surreal in my mind that something like that could even happen," says former executive director, Jerry Glidewell. "It really hasn't sunk in yet, but it's a huge honor and very humbled by that."

When the club reopens, the Jeffrey Unit will be renamed the Jeffrey-Glidewell Unit. Glidewell retired earlier this year after working 43 years with the FSBGC, most of which came from inside the Jeffrey Unit.

"It's a great way to honor his legacy and keep everybody remembering what he did for the kids in the community," says recently named FSBGC CEO Beth Presley. "It was all about the kids with Mr. Jerry, so, we want to keep honoring his legacy, and by having his name added to the Jeffrey-Glidewell Unit, we'll be able to tell the future kids that come through what an impact he made."

Throughout his career, Glidewell has helped impact tens of thousands of kids in the Fort Smith community. Twenty-five years ago, one of those kids is current Northside High School head basketball coach, Eric Burnett.

He says when he first joined the club it was Glidewell who took him under his wing and helped guide him down a path different from the one he was living. He owes so much to Glidewell and speaks for many who share a similar experience.

"If you talk to anybody in this community, you mention the Boys Club, the first name was going to come up is Jerry," says Burnett. "Everybody has a great deal of respect for Jerry because they know what he stands for."

Glidewell's wife of more than 30 years, Cyndi, was with him for the groundbreaking and dedication ceremony on Monday. She has witnessed his impact every step of the way, and Monday's dedication to the man who was dedicated to the club put a smile on her face.

"It takes my breath away," said Cyndi Glidewell. "For a building to be named and dedicated to someone for service, oh my gosh, that just, you know, just highlights the impact that he's had...he's just so overwhelmed with the idea that people would want to honor him in this way and I appreciate it. I appreciate the recognition of his humble heart and his tremendous gifts to the community."

The FSBGC raised $3.1 million - all through community support and donations for the project. They are still seeking $250 thousand to help furnish the club when it reopens.

Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out