Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club celebrates $3.1 million expansion to newly named Jeffrey-Glidewell Unit

Fort Smith club celebrates $3.1 million expansion to Jeffrey-Glidewell Unit

Jerry Glidewell speaks on Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery.
(River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
Jerry Glidewell speaks on Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)

FORT SMITH -- Hundreds of Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club leaders and community members gathered Tuesday at 4905 N. O St. to celebrate the dedication ceremony of the Jeffrey-Glidewell Unit.

The unit recently underwent a $3.1 million expansion, including a major reimagining of the Hunt's Park sports complex, new basketball courts and computer innovation labs.

The new name pays tribute to the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club's previous CEO, Jerry Glidewell, who dedicated 43 years of leadership service at the Jeffrey Unit before his retirement in 2022.

The Jeffrey portion of the name comes from Bill Jeffrey, who died in 1955, according to the Fort Smith Historical Society.

A press release from the Boys & Girls Club states the clubs flourished under Glidewell's guidance, boasting over 3,000 members and numerous alumni.

"During his tenure, Jerry Glidewell spearheaded the expansion of programs, volunteers and sponsorship opportunities. His vision led to the development of Hunt's Park, ball fields, additional properties, and unwavering support for other clubs and youth organizations. Through years of tireless effort, Jerry Glidewell achieved remarkable results with grace, humor and courage," the release states.

Eddie Lee Herndon, vice chairman of the Boys & Girls Club Board of Directors, said Glidewell has used his retirement to work part-time with the national Boys & Girls Club of America as an external safety assessor for clubs across the country.

"Beyond these walls and these doors and this beautiful building, he has built character," Herndon said.

Glidewell said the Jeffrey Unit was built in 1957 and located at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith campus. He said many things have changed since then, but what remains the same is the fundamental needs of young people.

"They need a sense of belonging," he said. "They need a safe haven. They need opportunity. They need someone to believe in them. And those fundamentals remain true today, and they will remain true 50 years from now."

Mayor George McGill said the unit's expansion marks the beginning of a new chapter filled with endless possibility and countless moments of impact.

"This unit stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to the holistic development of the youth," Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club CEO Beth Presley said. "That seed. A place where dreams are nurtured, talents are honed and friendships are forged. It symbolizes our collective belief in the power of education, mentorship, community support and shaping of the leaders of tomorrow."

  photo  Jerry Glidewell speaks on Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Roger Meek, chairman of the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs Board of Directors, speaks on Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Roger Meek, chairman of the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs Board of Directors, speaks on Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Beth Presley, CEO of Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs, speaks Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Beth Presley, CEO of Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs, speaks Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Fort Smith Mayor George McGill speaks Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  Visitors walk past a mural of former Arkansas basketball player Jaylin Williams Tuesday at the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls Club in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 
  photo  The outside of the Jeffrey-Glidewell Boys and Girls club is seen Tuesday in Fort Smith. A dedication ceremony was held for the newly remodeled unit. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
 
 

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