COLUMBIA — The Boys & Girls Town of Missouri celebrated the completion of five years of renovations and construction Wednesday morning at its campus on Bearfield Road.
More than 60 people attended the event, including Columbia Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and Mayor Bob McDavid.
Speaking at the event, McDavid reflected on his earlier career as a physician. He compared the thrill of seeing the promise and the future in a newborn baby's eyes to the work done by Boys & Girls Town.
"I want to express our gratitude at the investment that this organization is making in our youth," McDavid said. "It's the most important investment we can come up with."
In operation since 1949, Boys & Girls Town has become one of the largest children's service agencies in Missouri, according to the organization's website. The agency provides treatment, education, prevention and support services to children with a history of abuse or neglect, children with emotional and behavioral disorders, and children with autism.
With the completion of this $3.5 million project, the private, nonprofit agency can expand its existing community-based programs, such as:
- Foster care case management.
- Intensive in-home services.
- Outreach therapy.
- Chafee foster care services, which help older foster children transition to independence and self-sufficiency.
In addition to services offered, the on-campus renovations include:
- Two new residential cottages.
- A dining hall.
- An outdoor recreation and activity pavilion.
- Sidewalks and walkways around campus.
- Outdoor lighting.
- New staff offices.
Paula Fleming, vice president of the organization's central region, talked at the ceremony about how Boys & Girls Town was conceived to provide a safe environment for vulnerable members of the community.
"If you look around our campus today, what you are really seeing is the fulfillment of that vision," Fleming said.