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Staff File Photo / Children exit a school bus at the entrance to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga's East Lake unit. The club will be getting a makeover thanks to Lowe's and its 100 Hometowns initiative.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga Chief Executive Officer Jim Morgan stood in the library of the East Lake unit earlier this week surrounded by kids playing and laughing. Nearby, two young kids danced to a Billie Eilish song sounding from a video game on a big screen.

"I have the best job in the world," Morgan said, explaining to a reporter the changes the club is set to undergo in the next month or so thanks to the national 100 Hometowns initiative that Lowe's has embarked upon to celebrate its centennial.

The home-improvement retailer is working with 100 cities and towns across the country to renovate, rejuvenate or remodel key parts of the communities, such as parks, playgrounds, recreation centers or theaters, to make them better places to live and work.

The first announced renovation was the East Lake club, and Morgan said more than half of the 18,000-square-foot facility on East 25th Street will see work over the next month. Plans are to reopen Aug. 26. Work began Wednesday, though the majority of the retiling and painting will take place during the two weeks before school starts when the center is typically closed.

(READ MORE: Former Chattanoogan Kane Brown reflects on rise to country music stardom)

Everything but the gymnasium in the facility, built in 1995, will get some combination of new tile flooring, new paint or new furniture. The current library will become a teen center and computer lab. An adjoining room will serve as the library and a second computer lab. Both rooms will be completely renovated and outfitted with new computers and TVs. A doorway will be opened up to connect the two. Next to it, the art lab will get all new countertops, tile and Wi-Fi.

The club caters to about 750 kids ages 6-18, providing a safe, fun place for them to play and gather after school and throughout the summer. Morgan said the older students also use the computers to do things like apply for college or do schoolwork. Currently, the club has only five computers.

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Photo Courtesy of Lowe's / Country star Kane Brown, center, is shown during a previous visit to the Lowe's in Hixson, where he used to work. As part of its centennial celebration, Lowe's is helping to remodel, renovate or revitalize recreation centers, parks and playgrounds in 100 communities across the country.

"We will be putting in at least 30 new ones that comply with what the [Hamilton County] school system uses," he said.

Helping to make it all happen is Todd Drew, store manager at the Lowe's in Hixson. His store will be supplying the materials. VW supplied the Chromebook computers, and T.U. Parks contractors will do the bulk of the renovation work, with Triad Electric handling the wiring.

"We are very proud to be participating in this for the community," Drew said. "It's a big project, and it is going to be nice."

Also lending his help and support is country music star Kane Brown. Other celebrities lending their names and labor in communities elsewhere are athletes Drew Brees, Justin Fields, Najee Harris and Matt Light.

Brown, 27, worked at the Hixson Lowe's years ago before moving to Nashville to pursue his music career. He visited the East Lake club and the store in March to talk with associates and Boys & Girls Club representatives about what could be done. He said in a telephone interview this week that the project is especially meaningful to him.

"It means the world to me to be a part of this," Brown said. "I used to work there [Lowe's] while I was in high school, and I wish I'd have had a boys club in my life growing up."

Brown said he is excited that the new computer center will be built at the club and that the paint scheme will be redone in white, gray and blue.

"They have this lime green paint on the walls that gives me anxiety," Brown said. "That will be changed, and the purple paint too. The kids are going to be blown away."

Brown will return to the club when it nears completion to do some actual work and to celebrate its reopening.

Drew said Brown visited with former co-workers at Lowe's during his visit and many of them remembered his prowess on the employee basketball court out back and his singing while working.

"Nobody could touch him on the basketball court they said," according to Drew.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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