By: Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana Last Updated: June 19, 2019

As the City of East Chicago and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana celebrate the 100-year birthday of the Katherine House, generous businesses and community members contributed to the $1.25 million capital renovation for the transformation and enhancement of the organization’s East Chicago Katherine House Boys & Girls Club. In time for the Ribbon Cutting on June 20 for the new Club and its Club members, Cline Avenue Bridge, LLC contributed to the capital project by generously donating $10,000 so East Chicago youth can enjoy a traverse rock climbing wall in their Club. The climbing wall spans 32 feet across and allows children to develop their strength and coordination.

“We are so fortunate and proud to have a partnership with Cline Avenue Bridge. Terry Velligan, general manager of operations for Cline Avenue Bridge is a fantastic advocate for the East Chicago community understanding the connection of strong communities start with building GREAT Futures of youth. I am very thankful for people and businesses, like Cline Avenue Bridge, LLC, wanting to support our important endeavor,” says Ryan Smiley, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana.

The original Cline Avenue Bridge was initiated in 1979 and closed due to structural degradation in 2009. Without public funding to replace it, traffic was forced onto local streets, accelerating street wear and increasing travel times. The new Cline Avenue Bridge is a privately owned, operated, and maintained toll bridge that will alleviate congestion on local streets, reduce commute times, and provide a reliable route that helps drivers save time and money. Expected to open in the spring of 2020, the new bridge will restore a vital transportation link to Northwest Indiana and Chicago. A portion of every toll will go directly to the city of East Chicago.

“As an East Chicago native and former member of this very Club, I appreciate the positive impact that Boys & Girls Club can make in a child’s life,” said Terry Velligan, general manager at Cline Avenue Bridge. “Both our organizations strive to create more connected communities, and we’re proud to show our support for this worthwhile cause.”

The Katherine House, as it was known, has a rich place in East Chicago’s history. Built in 1919 by the local faith-based community, its purpose was to serve as a youth center. Fast-forward to 1973. As the Boys & Girls Clubs organization was growing throughout Lake and Porter Counties, the East Chicago Club became the third Club added to the Boys & Girls Clubs family. Lowell Robertson, founder of the East Chicago Club, worked with the Katherine House to merge into the now present East Chicago Katherine House Boys & Girls Club. As a contingent of the merger, girls were accepted as members. In 1992, the current East Chicago Katherine House Boys & Girls Club was built. The purpose of serving youth has never changed.