Boys & Girls Clubs get boost from Comcast - Philadelphia
Libby Lescalleet , executive program officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, in the newly renovated computer room at the Nicetown club. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer | Source

The roof leaked. Purple paint colored the walls. Toilets sat open in the bathroom, with no stall doors.

This was the condition of the Wayne Boys & Girls Club in Nicetown until a $520,000 renovation – completed in the last week – remade it into a spiffy hangout and brought the 100-year-old, two-story brick facility into the modern age with WiFi, technology labs, and 40 laptops, desktops, and tablets.

Comcast Corp.’s David Cohen and others will announce the renovation project Thursday as part of the cable TV giant’s five-year philanthropic commitment to the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America to expand digital literacy – knowledge of the Internet and computers – among low-income families.

Comcast has not put a specific dollar value on its commitment to the Boys & Girls Clubs for sponsorship of its My.Future (pronounced “my dot future”). But the company says it amounts to tens of millions of dollars in cash and services, including cable TV advertisements.

News conferences pledging Comcast’s support to My.Future at Boys & Girls Clubs also will be held in Chicago and Washington on Thursday.

Participating in the Philadelphia event will be Jim Clark, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which has 4,100 facilities and helps about four million young people a year. The youth-guidance organization aims to build character so boys and girls can become productive citizens.

Boys & Girls Clubs get boost from Comcast - Philadelphia
Roy Williams cleans vents at the Boys & Girls Club in Nicetown. Comcast’s David Cohen and others are to announce the completed renovation project there on Thursday. | Source

Libby Lescalleet, executive program officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, was walking around the Nicetown club on the 4200 block of Wayne Avenue late last week as contractors were polishing the floors and assembling furniture in time for the news conference.

The Philadelphia Boys & Girls organization has 15 clubs with 7,000 boys and girls who are paid members. Overall, it helps 13,000 youths through its after-school and sports programs.

Comcast’s relationship with the Boys & Girls Clubs began in 2001, and now 39 Comcast managers or executives nationally serve on Boys & Girls Clubs boards or advisory committees. One of those is Tom Firmani, vice president of operations for Comcast’s Philadelphia region and a member of the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia.

At the Nicetown club, Comcast donated $120,000 in computers, furniture, and other equipment. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia leveraged the Comcast donation for an additional $400,000 to renovate the roof, stairs, bathrooms, and other parts of the building, said Lisabeth Marziello, who runs the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia with her husband, Joseph.

Lescalleet gave a tour of the upgraded facility. The second-floor library has been converted into a digital literacy center, and the former TV lounge will now be a digital art and music studio. She said she hoped the renovation and new technology would allow children who participate in its program “to dream a little bigger.”

Bob Fernandez, Inquirer Staff Writer