MANATEE COUNTY - A Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County branch moved over to a brand new facility this week. It's new and improved home away from home for kids at the Desoto Boys & Girls Club.

This week, members and staff transitioned from a 50-year-old club that was stuffed to capacity with an even stuffier gym. Dawn Stanhope, Branch CEO said, "It was a well–loved building but it was also a well–worn building with thousands of kids that had been there over the years." To a 38,000 sq ft facility built to welcome nearly three times as many members.

She said, "Our dream was to make it much bigger because we always had waiting lists at the club. It will bring our attendance numbers from 240 a day to 550 a day." Stanhope said it's a project in the works for more than a decade. She said, "There were two failed attempts at starting fundraising, one right before the recession and one a little bit afterwards without a plan in place. About two and a half years ago, we really ramped it up."

Hard work came to fruition Monday  just a block away from the old club as the doors to a new place to make memories opened. She said, "A great gym that kids will love because it has air conditioning now. A cafeteria with a commercial kitchen, which expands culinary arts programs. Lots of learning centers."

 For 9– year–old Karina Baker, a new club means new responsibilities. She said, "I'm most excited because not a lot of kids are going to want to trash it because it's not old."

The new club is located at 5236 30th Street West in Bradenton.