GIRLS INC. BUILDING COULD BE DONE BY SPRING

Girls just want to have fun. And if they can do it with the help of some philanthropic Montecito residents, all the better.

Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara is on its way to completing the construction of a new $7-million building on the Goleta Hollister Avenue property it purchased in 2001. Organization officials say the building could be finished as soon as spring 2007.

When completed the new structure will house a theatre, gymnasium, library, conference room, kitchen, computer lab and a garden outside for the girls. The new gymnasium will reportedly be the third biggest one in Goleta and the kitchen will be twice the size of the kitchen available now.

Architect Jim Zimmerman designed a French Country manor with a sloping gable roof that he says will “disguise the gymnasium due to neighbor concerns and better blend with the residential neighborhood on either side of our building.”

Private donors have also given Girls Inc. enough money to plant 150 trees to further shield the building from its immediate surroundings.

Additionally, the new building will not only help fulfill the varied needs of Girls Inc. programs, “it will be able to serve the community as well, by offering to other organizations,” says Anne Luther, a Girls Inc. board member.

The Paige Youth Center, Tri-County Volleyball and the Circle Bar B Theater Group have expressed interest in using the building’s facilities.

However, the organization says it can’t finish work without more donations. The goal is to put up an additional $2 million by the end of this year and open the new facilities in spring 2007, according to Monica Spear, Girls Inc. executive director. “If we can just raise this last bit of money, we’ll be in great shape,” Spear says.

Though there has been a permanent Girls Inc. in Santa Barbara since 1968, the Goleta branch has leased and moved around several different properties.

While the new building is being constructed, Girls Inc. is using a portable and two small buildings, one donated by an unnamed couple from Montecito.

The space restrictions, Girls Inc. officials claim, create problems in how many girls can join the Goleta program – currently a maximum of 125. In the new facility, Spear says they’ll be able to handle as many as 250 girls per day.

In the county’s active sphere of non-profits, Girls Inc. has traditionally been a darling of Montecito residents, who have not only contributed handsomely in money, but also in time and effort. “Girls Inc. has been so supported and taken under the wings of Montecito residents,” Luther says. “It seems to be a favorite charity for them.”

Girls Inc. is a 140-year-old national non-profit association designed to educate girls ages 4 to 18. In the summer, the organization offers all-day programs and after-school programs during the school year.

In addition to having playtime with their friends, the girls can choose four classes every quarter. Classes include science and math, gardening, culinary arts, computer and technology education, substance abuse prevention, career planning, sex education, economic literacy, gymnastics and other sports and homework help.

For more info on Girls Inc call Spear at 963-4757 ext. 18 or through e-mail at mspear@girlsincsb.org.