Club offers safe place for kids to interact, stay outAmong the places that define Superior’s northern neighborhoods is the Virginia L. Deetz Community Center, where Boys and Girls Club members gather most afternoons after school for games.
By: Anna Kurth, The Daily Telegram
Among the places that define Superior’s northern neighborhoods is the Virginia L. Deetz Community Center, where Boys and Girls Club members gather most afternoons after school for games.
Such facilities have come to replace the sand lots and basketball courts of the past in Superior, where children no longer seem to gather in the numbers seen three to six decades ago.
Activities at the Deetz Center present a picture that would make Housing and Urban Development board members from the early ’90s grin. The facility they opened 15 years ago to serve North End kids is flourishing with activity.
The Virginia Deetz Center was built by HUD in 1993 to provide educational and recreational opportunities for children, said Deb Waterman, executive director of the Superior Housing Authority.
“The idea was — the more organized activities kids are involved with, the less trouble they’ll get into,” she said.
The center was named for Virginia Deetz, Superior’s housing center director at the time. It replaced an empty field that today is home to the center and a city ball field and a popular skating rink.
The center was run by the Superior Housing Authority until July 1995, when it handed programming responsibilities to the newly formed Superior Boys and Girls Club.
“Lots of good things are going on down there,” Waterman said. “It provides help for pretty much any kid who wants to go in there. It’s a great program.”
The Boys and Girls Club of America focuses its efforts in five core areas: education and career development, character and leadership development, arts, sports and fitness, and health and life skills.
Superior’s club offers a program in at least one area each day. The programming changes every quarter to keep kids engaged, said Tim Stratiotti, Superior branch director.
The club now serves about 35 to 50 six- to 18-year-olds each day and has 150 members from across the city.
A third of the kids served by the program are from Catlin Courts. The club is open to all city kids, but those from the North End have adopted the center as their own, he said.
“I think (the center has) brought more people into the area,” Waterman said, especially when the city added the ball field and skating area.
One connection from the center’s early days that still lives on in the current Boys and Girls Club is a mural on the wall.It was painted in the mid-’90s, and kids at the time had a lot of input into what they wanted to see on the mural, she said.
They added paintings of local people active at the center at the time, and it’s still beloved by kids who frequent the center today.
Stratiotti received housing authority approval to paint over the mural earlier this year, but club members wouldn’t allow it. Lots of today’s kids feel there are people they know depicted in the mural and don’t want to see it go away, he said.
Fifteen years after it was constructed, the center is still providing the opportunities it was designed for.
“We think that’s great. The more kids who can have a good experience there the better,” Waterman said.
Daily Telegram Staff Writer Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth