One of the rules in Building Community Bridges' boxing gym is "Support your team," and the nonprofit's leaders were thankful Saturday for the support the local community has given BCB — including to have a renovated boxing gym, which was debuted in an open house.
Doug Wright III founded BCB in 2017 to serve youth in the low-income, central Jefferson City community, and he said he's thankful for everyone who's supported it and saw his vision.
It isn't just children's lives BCB has reached.
"This has changed my life a lot," boxing coach Shadrick "Crazy Train" Howard, 42, said.
"Crazy Train" is his boxing moniker.
Howard said he started professionally boxing at 18, and now — having been at BCB since last year — he's "paying it forward."
"That's my life. This is what I love," he said.
BCB Director of Operations Alicia Edwards said boxing is the biggest program running, followed by art — and though art has been postponed because of COVID-19, a virtual option is in the works.
Boxing is available for free to boys and girls younger than 17, and the program costs $30 a month for those 17 and older, Edwards said.
"Cosmetically, it looks better," she said of renovations to the program's space, but donated workout equipment also makes it possible for boxers to train better.
Howard said boxing helps out in young people's lives in multiple ways — focus, goal-setting and stress relief — but he also stresses the importance of good grades at school.
The other rules in the gym are respect, show up (on time and often), work hard and clean up after oneself.
The updated gym — which features a floor-level ring, weightlifting equipment, treadmills, tires and punching bags — was part of renovations to BCB's building on East Ashley Street including its entryway, floors, offices and pantry.
Saturday's open house at BCB was not the first — Community Days offer free food and activities for children — but it was the first after the renovations.
Edwards said $20,000 from the Mike and Kathy Farmer Foundation made the renovations possible, though others have been involved as well; Lowe's donated supplies, and the anti-gun violence group Moms Demand Action organized a painting party.
There are still outstanding needs the community can help with — such as raising money for a new boxing ring.
Edwards said generally monetary donations and volunteers are needed.
Other planned renovations or additions to BCB's building also include a new kitchen and a second floor for after-school programming spaces.