Backed by a groundswell of community support, the Cranston League for Cranston’s Future (CLCF) is breaking ground on a 1,800 square foot addition to their building this Thursday at 9 a.m.
The organization, which provides youth sports for approximately 3,000 children from ages 4-18 annually in Cranston, aims to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) while expanding its square footage.
Fundraising Director and former CLCF President Steven Marocco said that modernizing the building and making it safer were the two biggest factors to renovate. Marocco also formerly operated Elmwood Sports Center with his sons, who were CLCF products.
“We’ve had to make some changes, and this will definitely bring this building into the twenty-first century,” Marocco said.
The renovations are expected to cost around $775,000. Currently, Marocco has raised approximately $500,000 in contributions.
Included amongst the new additions are a larger waiting area and lobby, as well as new bathrooms, a covered outdoor entrance and spectator seating behind the basket on the basketball court near the building’s entrance.
Volunteers are the backbone to CLCF that currently runs and operates 14 different sports- baseball, basketball, boxing, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, pickleball, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and wrestling. Their current executive board also consists of four past presidents, including Marocco and Building Administrator Tom Dorsey.
“This is what actually separates us from any other youth organization, not only in Rhode Island but actually in New England,” Marocco said. “No one in this organization gets paid a dime. The amount of hours that people put in would amaze you.”
Marocco said that the number of people who volunteer with CLCF is what makes it special, and that only adds to his enthusiasm about getting the project done.
Among those dedicated volunteers is current CLCF President Frank Notarianni. According to Notarianni, the commitment of those volunteers has kept CLCF running, and that it was truly special to have that commitment for the upcoming renovations.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have our core people,” Notarianni said. “We value every dollar we spend.”
Dorsey said that any volunteers who would want to start a program of a sport that CLCF doesn’t currently operate- such as volleyball and archery- would be welcome as well.
Marocco hopes that the construction will take approximately six months, although he doesn’t have a firm timeline.
During construction, the building’s back entrance will be open, so any groups using the indoor court do not have to be relocated.
Among donors to renovating the building are the Champlin Foundation, the DelPrete Family Foundation, the Marocco Family, the New England Laborer’s Union and the Shriners, who Marocco said give him hope when he was second-guessing whether the project could get off the ground. Marocco approached the Shriners with a request and they responded with a commitment for five times the amount.
“If it wasn’t for the Shriners, I don’t know if we’d have been able to do this,” Marocco said. “They gave at least me the impetus that we could possibly do this.”
Other donors include the Rhode Island State Legislature, Carpianato Corporation, the Picerne Family Foundation, the Elmwood Sports Center, the Valelli Family, the Procacianti Group, the Cranston Police Department, Cranston Police Union IBPO 301, Cranston Firefighters Union IATF Local 1363, Coastal 1 Credit Union, the Cranston Rotary Club, the Rampone Family, Dean Warehouse, Twin Oaks Restaurant and the Jaxon Marocco Foundation- a foundation honoring Marocco’s grandson, who died at 22 months from Niemann-Pick disease.
CLCF’s building on Pontiac Avenue was first built in the early 1970s. Since then, the only work done on it has been repairs following damage from the Pawtuxet River flood in 2010, during which water within the building reached over five feet high.
The organization was established in 1953 by Leo Castiglione. Marocco said that living up to Castiglione’s legacy and keeping it alive 70 years later is of paramount importance to him.
With upgraded facilities, though, Marocco sees CLCF continuing to be the foundation of the future of Cranston youth sports.
“It’s really been a labor of love,” Marocco said.
Anyone who wants to donate can contact Marocco at firstname.lastname@example.org.