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The first time you walk through the entrance at bgc Southeast in Kingston, Ontario, you are surprised to see a brightly decorated small restaurant where you can pick up a meal at a very reasonable price. 
I’m not sure what I expected to see but it wasn’t a cafeteria, after all, bgc Southeast is the new name for the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and I was there to take part in a weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Kingston, who many years ago was instrumental in getting it started. 
We were there for an update over lunch and for some Cheque presentations. By the time I found the gym I was startled by its sheer size, which I learned was 55,000 sq. feet of floor space. Someone told me it had once been a Walmart Store which likely meant that it had also once been a Woolco store.
Harold Parsons, bgc Southeast’s, Executive Director, began by thanking Rotary for its 30 years of support.  Since his arrival in 1999, bgc Southeast has grown and now offers a wide variety of programmes covering the area between Ottawa and Oshawa, in support of children and youth. They have also developed several strong partnerships with other agencies such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, with whom it shares the building and staff. 
Parsons introduced two alumni of the club: Jamal, the manager of Youth Programmes and Ben a volunteer.  They outlined several initiatives that support youth and provide a safe space for them to relax and decompress.
Jamal thanked Rotary for the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) and Adventures in Understanding programmes that bcg Southeast members have attended.  Ben recently refined an electronic version of Dungeons and Dragons as a tool to enhance reading that is very popular at bcg Southeast.
A personal tour of the building only increased my level of surprise not only in the impressive array of activities but also the range of facilities. More surprising still was the presence of seniors using the facilities. In this instance seeing four courts of pickle ball in progress over two full basketball courts was something, I had not expected.
Likewise, I learned that seniors used the two interconnected swimming pools, one designed for children with disabilities and used for seniors’ aquatic exercise programs, the other with lanes for swimming lengths. It’s no wonder seniors like them, as the water is kept at around 28 degrees Celsius.

Activity Rooms at bgc Southeast

Other activity venues included an indoor soccer area, a safe bouncing area housing a full visiting classroom of children, a very large kindergarten area, a large bank of exercise equipment, a climbing apparatus room, and various rooms for learning and rather interestingly, an office for the staff of Holy Cross Catholic High School.
The presentation concluded with three cheques being presented to CEO Harold Parsons.
Ken Thompson presented a cheque to bgc Southeast for $4,000 from the "Cheers the Beef" campaign.  This initiative provides healthy snacks to children in the after schools programme.
Bob Mallette presented a cheque to bgc for $2,000 from the Colbourne-Quenneville Trust
Mark Santoni, along with representatives from Empire Life Insurance Inc. and Cataraqui G&CC, presented cheques on behalf of the Cat Fore Kids Golf Tournament.  This year the event raised $28,000.  The monies raised were divided equally among Pathways for Education, bcg Southeast and our Rotary Club.