[soft country music]
Something that I remember was taking my first sports photo in that park where this building now stands. And I think about those days, still, when I'm sitting in this building and it makes me smile. Shortly after graduating from college, I had the opportunity to work part-time at a Boys & Girls Club, and that gradually turned into me being a Program Director. And I stayed with the organization, climbing the ladder, and then the opportunity came for me to be the Executive Director, and I jumped at it. I thought this was an opportunity to make a huge difference, right in the same community and neighborhood that I grew up in.
One of the other things that I realized when I got here was that we had facilities that were in woefully bad shape. The kids and the families needed state-of-the-art clubhouses. So we had a decision to make as an organization. At a board meeting, we had the conversation: we need to consider putting up a brand new facility. I'm so happy to say that the board made the decision: let's go for it.
In order for us to pull this project off, we needed to raise $10 million or so. We had raised an enormous amount with individuals and corporations and foundations. However, even with all of the support, it was a very big moment when JPMorgan Chase decided that it would select this project to be the equity investor in our new market tax credit program. That, combined with our relationship with New York State, got us across the finish line and created this youth development super center here in the heart of Schenectady.
So we created this beautiful facility. We had a grand opening in January of 2020. Everyone's excited, we had hundreds of people here and we were open for a solid two months. And then COVID struck and we had to shut everything down.
It was heartbreaking to think about what our families and many other families in Schenectady were going through during those moments. And we knew that we had to play a vital role in some way during this pandemic. So as a result, a coalition was formed. And I'm proud to say that it was headquartered here in this new facility. We had dozens of volunteers, 20 other organizations and businesses all coming to our facility every day, putting together care packages, life bags full of food, toiletries, PPE, dog food, baby food, diapers, and delivering over 16,000 packages to the porches of people in our city in need. And we had an emergency call center taking calls, transferring the data to our data center. We're putting together routes, so we knew where we had to deliver all of these care packages. In addition, we prepared over 40,000 hot meals that we served out in front of our facility in grab-and-go style. I don't think that this facility could have played a more important role than it did. And I think it really is a miracle it was finished in time for this pandemic.
We could not be more proud of how our organization has responded to this health crisis. With that said, we can't rest on that. We have to think about the future. And we're coming out of this pandemic. Right now at COVID levels, we're able to serve about a hundred every day. And we have been doing that since the summer of 2020. The day is coming where this building opens up again and it becomes truly what it was designed to be, which is a massive opportunity for hundreds of young people in our community to come in and use the facility. But I want to be clear on this: a brand new facility is incredible and it's wonderful, but what I really wanted this building to symbolize to the kids was to know how much people loved them in this community. That's what this symbolizes.
COVID-19 forced many organizations—including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady—to switch gears. Executive Director Shane Bargy played a critical role in that pivot. But his work started long before the pandemic.