Troubled youth who are on the mend at Murrieta's have a much-needed new gymnasium.
Youth such as Gabriel Trent, 17, who is seldom seen without an instrument on his person.
Up until this month, the senior has participated along with others in Oak Grove's thriving music and performing arts program—held in the cafeteria.
The Jefferson Avenue campus serves at-risk youth through referrals from mental health providers, foster programs, probation departments, public schools and other agencies. There are 72 students who live on campus and another 85 who attend day classes.
"Oak Grove has grown beyond what we ever thought," said CEO Tammy Wilson, who was a driving force behind adding a gym to the campus. "A lot of the students have issues in depression so the arts program helps them through it. There has been no rec area and music happens in the cafeteria."
The school also has CIF-regulated sports teams but was rarely able to host sporting events.
That is all going to change.
On March 7—three years and $2 million later—Oak Grove celebrated the grand opening of its gymnasium. The two-story, stand alone building includes a 13,826-square-foot gym, a rec room and art and music room at 1,500 square foot each, a 900-sqaure-foot sensory and play room, and a 1,000-square-foot weight room.
"The gym is going to allow us to play even more sports so we are super excited," Wilson said.
It's beyond any expectations once had—thanks to a slew of donors. Wilson estimates $1.5 million of the cost of building the gym came from in-kind donations and money raised during benefit events. Key fund-raising goals were met during golf tournaments hosted by Pechanga Resort & Casino, as well as Evening Under the Oaks, an annual dinner and silent auction.
"There's just been a tremendous outpouring of the community," Wilson said.
Her daughters—both artists—even pitched in. Ariel Wilson designed the interior spaces so they would fit across age spans and gender, and Danae Wilson painted two large murals. One of the murals is a giving tree that lists the names of donors.
"It is very special and we are grateful for the tremendous community support."