News and Events

Partner Update: Foundation Seeks to Restore Smith Brown Gym
Ashley Coone, March 23, 2014

Standing before the Arcadia City Council recently, the Smith Brown Community Foundation Board of Directors unveiled an ambitious plan to renovate the Smith Brown Gym. The Foundation laid out its plans to restore the gym and transform it into a community facility. The renovated gym would provide a safe building for organizations to provide services for everyone from youth to seniors.  

The renovation plans are the result of the Foundation’s yearlong community needs assessment and their past programming in the facility. “There’s such a rich history in this building. There are so many kids who started out playing and learning in this gym during school, after school, and summers. Many of these kids have become extremely successful adults. We look forward to restoring the gym and providing enrichment services to the youth of today and continuing a tradition of success,” Richard Bowers, affectionately known as “Coach”, chairman of the Smith Brown Community Foundation explained. 

Smith Brown Gym

The Foundation has a preliminary phased plan to do just that. The initial phase of the project is to make the building safe and usable. Long-term plans include updating fixtures, equipment, adding air conditioning, painting and more. 

Nestled right in the middle of the Arcadia Housing Authority; the building is adjacent to Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Owned by the city, the facility was built in the 1950s as a gymnasium for the Smith Brown School during segregation. Prior to the building’s closure, it had been used for community events, food distributions, and more. The Foundation provided services for many years out of the historic gymnasium including tutoring, afterschool and summer programming to youth. Since the gym’s closing, the Foundation has had to serve fewer youth through its tutoring programs.

“The city council certainly recognizes the need for recreational facilities. We made a commitment recognizing that it’s an asset when we committed to doing the roof repair. And we are real excited about an opportunity that has risen recently that will allow us to collaborate with our community to improve this facility to the betterment of our community,” noted City Councilman Keith Keene.

The Smith Brown Foundation was founded in 1998 to provide resources to youth in southeast Arcadia. Today the Foundation’s mission has expanded to include working collaboratively with individuals and community organizations to provide experiences that will improve the quality of life and foster a sense of neighborhood and family for all people.

Smith Brown Video Project

A steering committee has been formed to guide the restoration of the building as a community facility and to bring it into full use. The committee consists of Alan Johnson, Ashley Coone, Lindsay Turner, Jacarrie Simons, and Emily Suter. The committee has been grateful for all of the pro bono work of its building planning committee including Sofia Konstantinidis Nugent, Bumper Hay, and Brian Hoopingarner. 

Coach Richard Bower adds, “This project is near and dear to my heart and I’m excited to see it through. We can’t do it alone, we need community support.  The return on investment for our kids today and our kids of the future is priceless.”

For more information about this project, contact the steering committee at (863) 990-0527.