On the Friday before school break, the entrance to the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown was cluttered. A bench beneath a crowded bulletin board was filled with cardboard inventions, each bearing a name and a title: Castle, Skyscraper, About My Family. There were reusable grocery bags filled with nonperishables, free for families to take home. Fliers in English and Portuguese advertised a free winter farmers’ market.

Long a place for after school and summer enrichment offered at almost no cost, the club also provides for other vital needs from homework tutoring to nutrition.

And the census continues to grow, topping out at more than 1,800 children served in 2018. But club chief executive officer Jessie Damroth said the facility off Robinson Road which dates to the 1970s is no longer adequate to serve the needs of the 135 children and teens who come through every day.

“We know we need a new facility,” Ms. Damroth said. “We’re re-envisioning ourselves right now.”

With a recent $100,000 emergency grant from MV Youth to cover urgent repairs along with new board leadership, the venerable boys and girls club is now working with national partners to form a strategic plan for the future. The plan is expected to be complete by this summer. Ms. Damroth envisions a new hub for Island students in grades kindergarten through twelve.

“I think for years the club has bandaged to survive,” said the Island native who returned home three years ago to take the helm at the club. “Versus, okay, we are planning for a future. Here’s our vision and here’s where we want to be.”

The club welcomes children from all Island elementary schools every day from the end of school until 6 p.m. It also hosts a basketball league, soccer, co-ed flag football and a golf program. In the summer, there is a low-cost camp from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June to August. A yearlong membership to the club costs $20.

Generations of children have spent their afternoons and weekends at the club, originally founded as the Edgartown Boys Club in 1931. In 1937, the club moved into a building on School street in Edgartown, where it remained until the 1970s.

According to a 1955 Gazette article, the club offered model airplane, carpentry and photography classes.

“The club rooms boasts a television set, motion picture facilities, pingpong sets and many other indoor games. An innovation this year is the sale of candy and ice cream bars,” the story said.

Edgartown girls were not fully included until the 1970s, and the club began including children from other towns in the 1980s. Today proceeds from sales at the Edgartown Second Hand Store help support the club.

“My grandfather went to the Boys Club of Edgartown,” said Ms. Damroth, who grew up in Chilmark. “My mom was allowed to come in to dance. My uncle played basketball.”

After high school Ms. Damroth left the Island for college and began a career in fundraising for higher education, most recently at Williams College. She said news of her Island peers’ struggles influenced her decision to return home in September 2016.

“By the time my early thirties hit, I had lost over 25 friends, whether it be car accidents, alcoholism, overdoses, from the Island. Then in 2016, my cousin [overdosed],” she said. “Then I really knew in my heart of hearts that something had to be done on a huge level to invest in the youth of this Island or we’re not going to make it change for future generations.”

Ms. Damroth's children, Logan, left, and Ayden, right, are regulars at the club. — Maria Thibodeau

Her two children come to the after-school program at the club every day.

She said nearly all the children served at the club in 2018 were enrolled in the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program for children from low-income families.

Meanwhile, the list of immediate needs at the facility is lengthy. Edgartown police have recommended a new, more secure entryway. The gym ceiling needs repairs, and much of the gym equipment dates to the 1970s. The flooring in the main recreation room is uneven. Doors to the gym are broken and are not compliant with accessibility requirements. There is no separate bathroom for staff, and limited space leads to high levels of noise. Much of the electrical and plumbing work is encased in concrete, making repairs difficult and costly.

Michael Donaroma, who stepped in as the new board president in January, acknowledged that the board went through a dramatic transition, with multiple abrupt departures and an influx of new members. But Mr. Donaroma, who is an Edgartown selectman and owns Donaroma’s Nursery, said the new board is more Island based and oriented toward large-scale change.

“I think we’re in great shape now to move forward,” he said.

New members on the board include attorney and school committee member Kim Kirk, high school swim coach and accountant John Chatinover, former West Tisbury police chief Dan Rossi, building contractor Norman Rankow and Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison.

“We need to make changes. We need to expand, and in order to do that now, with the competition [for funding on the Island] being so tough, you need attorneys, accountants and financial people,” said Mr. Donaroma, who grew up spending evenings at the club. “You need people who are Island-based.”

Mornings at the club are quiet as the four full-time staff prepare. But promptly at 2:40 in the afternoon, the action begins. Students from Edgartown arrive each day on foot, the first ones sprinting to see who can be the first to touch the door. They sing out their identification numbers as they pass membership coordinator Mallory Calamare, pick up their name tags, and hang up their backpacks. Food program coordinator Maria Moreira hands out snacks.

The Edgartown students have barely polished off their snack when at three, the Tisbury students arrive, call out their registration numbers, hang up their backpacks and join the fray. By the time West Tisbury and Chilmark arrive at 3:15, the din of basketballs has filled the gym and the smell of paint wafts from the art room. Then students from Oak Bluffs arrive at 3:20. Charter School students are the last ones in at 3:45.

“There’s usually a period between four and five where it’s craziness,” Ms. Damroth said.

On Friday afternoon, there was a pyramid of hot dogs wrapped in foil for snack. Charter school third graders Jaiden and Beckett and Edgartown school first grader Tayshaun knelt around a low table putting together pieces of action figures and motorcycles. Asked to name their favorite thing about the after school program, they answered promptly in unison: “Legos.”

“We have different Legos from different sets we mix up,” Jaiden explained, hands in his pockets.

In the art room, teacher Mary Seveland looked on as students folded paper boats, drew sea turtles and colored in League of Legends characters.

“Her English is amazing now, and she hasn’t been here but a few months,” she said of one student who painted a face with heart eyes. “We’re bilingual here.”

Engrossed in their activities, the children seemed oblivious to the shortcomings of the facility. But Ms. Damroth said she is committed to the next steps.

“It’s been the hardest most amazing experience. Change is always hard on this Island,” she said. “We don’t like change, but it’s always messy in the process. In the end it’s beautiful to see what’s taking place.”