PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - This week the Boys and Girls Club's Qatar Center officially opened its doors.
A few weeks ago, club leaders, children and hometown hero Robin Roberts celebrated the completion of the Pass Christian club. Now some kids are ready to spend their summer vacation at the new club.
"I was here last summer, the summer before that, and I think the summer before that," said 13-year-old Gabriel Porter.
Porter is one of 160 children attending the new Pass Christian club this summer. It's something he's been looking forward to since construction began.
"Every day it was something different," said Porter. "A new part of the building was added, or a window, or some new tiles, or something like that, and it was cool to see."
While the outside is cool, the inside is even better.
"We have all of our own stuff, especially the art room and the playground is awesome," said 9-year-old Emily Pickich.
A state-of-the art gymnasium, an art room, new furniture and electronics are just some of the things featured in the new club thanks to a $5 million boost from the nation of Qatar.
"We're very proud of that relationship," said director Sam Burke. "It's ongoing. It's definitely not over now. It's just beginning. They are fully invested in this community and they always will be."
Burke said new partnerships and community support are instrumental to rebuilding clubs all over South Mississippi.
"They absolutely will not just be spending their day twiddling their thumbs. We're going to have them in programs that will make them a better individual, for sure," Burke said.
"If only the kids could get to see it, they would be running in here like, 'Can I be in the Boys and Girls Club?'" Pickich said.
Director Sam Burke said there will be a groundbreaking for two additional Boys & Girls Clubs this summer. Those clubs will be in D'Iberville and the Forest Heights Club in North Gulfport.
The clubs are open to all children ages 5 to 18. For more information on the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast, visit bgcgulfcoast.org.