PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,200 youths in the New Columbia community now have a new place to play, learn and grow with the grand opening of the Regence Boys & Girls Club. Construction on the Club was supported with a $500,000 "Break the Barrier" grant from Regence, the largest in the company's history. The facility is Portland's first completely new Club in 11 years. "The opening of the Regence Boys & Girls Club marks a historic turning point in the growth of our community and the future of children and young people in our city. We are proud be part of this significant step toward a safer, healthier future for Portland's young people," said Mark Ganz, president and CEO of Regence. "Our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs represents our shared commitment to helping our young people become productive, caring members of our community." Regence and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area invite the public and the media to join them on September 28 from 1 - 2:30 p.m. to celebrate the grand opening of the new Regence Boys & Girls Club with an afternoon of festivities. Jazz pianist Michael Allen Harrison will provide entertainment and guests will hear from local officials from the Housing Authority and Portland City Council. As part of this special event, children from the community will present Regence with some special commemorative gifts. The Club is part of the largest neighborhood revitalization project ever undertaken in Oregon. It is a key element of the $150 million, 82-acre New Columbia community, which is a driving force behind the ongoing revitalization of North Portland. The new Club offers more than just a place to go after school. A recent Columbia University study found that the location of Boys & Girls Clubs in public housing developments had a significant impact on the quality of life for residents. The study also showed that youth from public housing who participated in a Boys & Girls Club had a higher percentage of academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems in school. "The Regence Boys & Girls Club is a true beacon of hope for the youth of this community who need us most," said Lisabeth Marziello, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area. "Regence's demonstration of leadership through this investment will have a direct impact upon the young people of this community by changing the landscape of opportunities available. The Regence Boys & Girls Club will be a place where kids can play, have fun, experience joy, laugh, and learn about themselves and the larger world they live in. But most importantly, the Club will be a place where children will receive positive guidance that nurtures their character and enables them to become productive, responsible and caring adults who give back to their community." About Boys & Girls Clubs Boys & Girls Clubs of America comprises a national network of some 4,200 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving more than 4.4 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances. Known as "The Positive Place for Kids," Clubs provide guidance-oriented programs on a daily basis for children 6 - 18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key programs emphasize character and leadership development, educational enhancement, career preparation, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation. Locally, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area has established itself as the premier youth guidance and development agency, providing nationally proven life-saving programs to more than 13,000 young people throughout Portland and its surrounding communities. About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon provides medical, dental and related coverage for about one million members in Oregon and in Clark County, Washington. It's part of Regence, the largest health insurer in the northwest and intermountain states, collectively covering nearly three million people. Regence and its Plans are not-for-profit independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Nearly one in three Americans has health care coverage through Blue Plans. For more information, visit http://www.or.regence.com.
SOURCE Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon