La Mesa residents celebrate first anniversary of Brady Family Clubhouse, community youth

Photo by B.J. Coleman. State Senator Brian W. Jones, at left, with Forrest Higgins, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County during the first anniversary celebration since the opening of La Mesa’s Brady Family Clubhouse on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Jones presented a certificate of acknowledgement to major participants in fundraising to construct the 26,000-square-foot facility.

Lots of happy youngsters filled tables and game rooms in the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County’s Brady Family Clubhouse on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Many happy adults gathered in the facility too, to celebrate the first anniversary since opening of the 26,000-square-foot clubhouse. The complex includes a 10,000-square-foot gymnasium named for Bill Walton.

State Senator Brian W. Jones attended, presenting a certificate of recognition to principals who participated in raising money to fund construction of the facility. Those acknowledged include La Mesa couple Ron and Mary Alice Brady, who donated $3 million for the clubhouse, and Forrest Higgins, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of East County.

After the official acknowledgement ceremony, Mary Alice Brady spoke in a brief interview about the couple’s background and the purpose that motivated their donation.

“Ron and I are both locals,” Mary Alice said. “I grew up a stone’s throw from here. I was a foster child. We had a large family of kids living there. It was almost like we had a Boys and Girls Club there.”

She praised her husband’s efforts in fundraising alongside their own large donation. “Ron did most of the work, knocking on doors to raise money,” Mary Alice said.

And why did they contribute so much effort to this project? “We wanted to help make a safe place for kids in East County,” Mary Alice said.

The plaque affixed outside entry doors to the clubhouse explains further, reading in part: “We are driven by the power of a promise! … It’s better to build kids than try to mend adults! … We care about the well being and development of the boys and girls of La Mesa…”

In earlier remarks, Higgins referred to the clubhouse building project as a real “community collaboration,” involving private donations from throughout La Mesa, the County of San Diego through Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s grant support and infrastructure improvements from the City of La Mesa.

The celebration concluded with conviviality and refreshments, including pizza slices for younger attendees and light appetizers and desserts for the adults.

The Brady Family Clubhouse is located at 7600 Junior High Drive, near the west end of La Mesa Arts Academy, at the south end of Olive Avenue. The clubhouse is one of six facilities operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of East County.

Overall, around 200 youngsters participate in after-school recreation and learning activities in the clubhouse and nearby Brady Family Teen Center. Membership in the Boys & Girls Club is open to children and youth ages five to 18.