Hundreds of Gifford Youth Achievement Center supporters attended a joyous Ribbon Cutting Ceremony last Wednesday to officially open the $5 million, 14,000-square-foot classroom expansion, next door to the current facility, which will enable GYAC to increase the number of students served from 200 to 325.
During the ceremony, Angelia Perry, GYAC executive director, and Freddie Woolfork, director of public relations and facilities operations, unveiled a plaque naming the new facility as the Cis and Bill Glavin Educational Center.
“There was one person who issued the clarion call to get this job done,” said Scott Alexander, honorary chairman of the Dream Weavers Capital Campaign and GYAC Foundation board member. “And hopefully, we’ve done that, Bill.”
His voice choked with emotion, Glavin said that of all the numerous charitable organizations that he and his late wife supported over the years, “We have never ever been involved in an organization as great as this one. The things that go on here are just incredible. This is the greatest honor that we’ve ever had in our lives. It’s wonderful. Cis is looking down on us today, just taken aback by what is happening today.”
Another special surprise took place following the official ribbon cutting – the unveiling of another plaque dedicating a new patio area between the two buildings in honor of Woolfork, who has been a continual presence at GYAC since its inception.
Prior to the dedications, the Dream Weaver Choir had started things off singing “I Am Beautiful,” under the direction of Mary B. McKinney and Annette Reason, their sweet voices a prelude to more good things to come.
Introducing GYAC co-founder Dr. A. Ronald Hudson, Perry said the organization would not exist were it not for the vision of Hudson and the late Dan K. Richardson and Rev. Dr. William Nigh.
“Even though they are not with us today, I believe very much that they would be elated to see what is happening here this afternoon,” said Hudson. “I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with both of those gentlemen and I am so grateful for the legacy that they left us.”
He said 23 years ago, when the idea was first conceptualized, they had a start-up donation, but no prototype, model, plans, volunteers or property.
“Today we celebrate with great excitement, a very bright day for the students here at GYAC as well as for this community and Indian River County. The new expansion and the additional classrooms will provide an opportunity for more students to enhance their academic skills, to improve their self-esteem and to graduate high school on schedule,” said Hudson.
“Not only that, but more students will be able to learn that if they are going to be successful in life, that there are some core values and that character counts. There is no substitute for being responsible, honest, courteous, respectful, dependable and caring.”
Noting that the expansion would not have been possible without committed support, he added, “I offer my sincere appreciation and thanks to all of you.”
Dr. Edwin Massey, president of Indian River State College, recalled early conversations with Richardson regarding his ideas for GYAC.
“Dan wanted it to be independent,” said Massey, adding that Richardson had stressed the importance of having the board reach independent decisions. He said IRSC continues to work closely with GYAC, offering classes, training and programs, including Upward Bound and duel enrollment programs to help prepare the students to live in a “really complex world.”
“I love celebrations like this; I think they’re inspiring,” said Alexander, before introducing some of the numerous people involved in the facility’s planning, fundraising and construction. Several of those spoke about the process, including architect John Binkley, who said they designed it with the ability to eventually incorporate a second floor, and Proctor Construction representatives Andrew Kennedy and Patrick O’Neill, who completed the job on time and on budget.
For more information, visit gyac.net.