Tag Archives: Boys and Girls Club of Worcester

Help our kids be great! The Worcester Boys and Girls Club fall wish list!

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Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
65 Tainter St.
bgcworcester.org

Our Fall Wish List:

Services/ Capital Improvements

Floors for Kid’s Café, Education Center, Games Room, and Teen Center
Painting our program rooms
HVAC, plumbing, and carpentry (professionals in these fields can donate their time, materials, etc.)
Swimming pool vacuum
Snow Plowing
Furnishings

Bean bag chairs
Colorful throw rugs
Flat screen television for the games room, School Aged Child Care program, and our Plumley Village outreach site
Athletic Equipment

Yoga mats
Basketballs
Rubber balls (to be used for 4 square, dodge ball)
soccer balls
volleyballs
Soccer goal nets
Footballs
boxing gloves and tape
swim towels and goggles
Whiffle ball set
Jump ropes
Hula Hoops
Outdoor Chalk
Educational Tools

Journals
Notebooks
Digital/ disposable cameras
iPads/Surface (to be used for school projects, book reports, college & job applications)
Pens
Pencils
Loose leaf paper
Binders
Folders
Backpacks
Educational workbooks (k-4th grade)
Flashcards (foreign language, math, English)
SAT prep books
Smart boards
Wii/PlayStation & flat screen TV (for educational and fitness purposes)
Plain t-shirts
Arts & Crafts Supplies

Tempera paint
Paintbrushes
Markers
Crayons
Colored pencils
Clay/ Play dough
Sketch books
construction paper, copy paper, and origami paper
Glue (large bottles)
Paste and glue sticks
Scissors
Paint mixing stick

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Main South! Always in style! … Oct. 13 – tomorrow! – opening of new Kilby-Gardner-Hammond Athletic Field and Track!

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This lovely duplex is just one example of the the glorious Gardner-Kilby-Hammond urban renewal project! pic: Ron O’Clair

Boys & Girls Club kids will inaugurate field with soccer ‘kickoff’!

The Main South Community Development Corporation, the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester and Clark University will celebrate the completion of a new field and track with a dedication beginning at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, at 65 Tainter St.

Opening the new field marks the culmination of the Kilby-Gardner-Hammond project, begun in the late 1990s. The project so far comprises more than 100 new housing units, the $9.2 million Boys & Girls Club, and the new, $3 million field and track. This facility will be used by Clark University for intercollegiate, club, intramural, and recreation sports. It will also be shared with the Boys and Girls Club, giving the young people there an essential outdoor play space.

Congressman Jim McGovern will join the ceremonies on Thursday, along with Stephen Teasdale, Executive Director of the Main South CDC; David Angel, President of Clark University; and Liz Hamilton, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester.

“This new field and track will expand access to green spaces for local families and give kids new opportunities for outdoor recreation and positive afterschool activities,” Congressman McGovern said. “The successful completion of this project is another strong step toward a rejuvenated Main South. I was proud to help bring federal dollars back to our district to invest in the bike path around the track and I am grateful to work with such great partners in the City, Clark University, the Boys and Girls Club and the Main South Community Development Corporation to help us revitalize this neighborhood. Together we are building a strong and vibrant community for all of our families.”

“This field represents just the latest in a long history of successful partnering between Clark and our neighbors in Main South,” President Angel said. “The investments of our community along with city, state and federal agencies, private investment and development firms have resulted in a successful revitalization project sure to benefit all.”

“We’re thrilled to cut the ribbon and officially help Clark University open their new collegiate field, located next to our Harrington Clubhouse,” writes Hamilton. “This field will create opportunities for our kids we’ve never been able to provide in the past. We’re extremely appreciative of Clark for allowing our Club to utilize the field to offer sports such as snow-shoeing, lacrosse, track, and flag football.”

After officials finish their remarks, they plan to toss and kick soccer balls onto the new field for the club kids to “kick off” the new playing field.

The field and track project is another in a series of collaborations between the Main South CDC, the city, federal and state government and Clark University to revitalize Main South.

Yay, Main South!! Groundbreaking for Gardner Kilby Hammond bike path!

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The Boys and Girls Club of Worcester and city officials celebrated today the new Gardner Kilby Hammond bike path in Main South. Congressman Jim McGovern secured nearly $3 million in federal funding to create the lighted bike path, which will provide additional pedestrian and bike access to the Boys and Girls Club, located on Tainter Street.

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“Today is a truly exciting day. This bike path and the sports field that will follow it are so important to the Main South neighborhood,” Congressman McGovern said. “This project will bring more access to green space and outdoor recreation opportunities for families in this neighborhood and is just another step toward a rejuvenated Main South. I am proud to work with great partners in the City, Clark University, and the Main South Community Development Corporation to help us revitalize this neighborhood. I look forward to coming back in the spring for a ribbon cutting on the bike path and a ground breaking for the field.”

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The nearly $3 million project secured by McGovern will also include roadway improvements, which will be made to Kilby and Gardner streets, including street light modifications, sidewalk replacement, curb resetting, roadway mill and overlay, and full depth pavement repairs as necessary. Improvements will also include additional crosswalks and shared roadway markings to tie the improvements into the bike path.

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Joining Congressman McGovern at today’s bike path groundbreaking were Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus, Jr., Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera, MassDOT’s District Highway Director Jonathan Gulliver, National Grid Massachusetts President Marcy Reed, Main South CDC Executive Director Steve Teasdale, Clark University President David Angel, and Erwin “Dusty” Miller from the Boys and Girls Club.

Worcester’s Boys and Girls Club celebrates its 125th birthday this year! Hooray!!!

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By Malory Truman

On the surface, the Boys & Girls Club seems up-to-the-minute contemporary, with kids from 8 to 18 playfully trash-talking each other over Rock Band, collaborating on an original play about bullying, or using an iMac to create a podcast. Dinner every week night in Kids Café might be the loudest half-hour anywhere in Worcester. Dig a little deeper and it’s obvious that the Club’s rich history and wealth of experience inform every program in all three Clubhouses.

 

The Club celebrated that history at the 125th Anniversary Celebration at Mechanics Hall on June 12th. The party was a who’s-who of Worcester – past and future! District Attorney Joseph Early, well-known artist Andy Fish, and local entrepreneur Frank Carroll were inducted into the alumni Hall of Fame, and the “Class of 2014” high school graduates had their commencement. The dance team and beat team performed, and refreshments were served.

 

The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester has been around for a long time. If it had to sum up a century-plus of experience? “After more than 125 years of serving Worcester and Main South, everybody gets that we serve the kids who need us most,” said Ron Hadorn, Executive Director, “and most people understand that our Clubhouse is active with hundreds of kids each day — what a lot of people don’t get is how amazing our kids are and how much they are achieving through the Club.  They are smart, talented and ambitious — all they lack is a safe place to be a kid and an opportunity to shine!”

 

The Boys & Girls Club gives kids that chance. Since 1889, the Club has turned at-risk kids into community movers and shakers. Congressman Jim McGovern is a former Club kid, as is Police Chief Gary Gemme, and three-time World Champion boxer Jose Rivera.

 

The Worcester Club is one of the original fifteen Boys Clubs, and a founding member of the national organization. In 1914, alumni and concerned citizens built a clubhouse on Ionic Avenue in downtown Worcester. When it was built, the concept of a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to youth was innovative and cutting-edge. The Club’s location, in the center of an immigrant neighborhood, boosted attendance.

 

Girls began participating officially in 1979, and their level of participation grew over the years. In 1991, the name was changed to the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, formally recognizing that girls were here to stay. Today, girls play basketball, create documentaries, mentor younger kids – and participate in all kinds of girls-only programs, which let them work through important issues without feeling self-conscious. The Club offers 40 hours of gender-specific programs (for both boys and girls) every week.

 

The Boys & Girls Club runs two outreach sites, in Great Brook Valley and Plumley Village, in addition to the downtown building. In 2003, the Club embarked on a capital campaign to replace the 90-year-old Ionic Avenue Clubhouse. With the support of the entire Worcester community, the new building opened its doors in September, 2006. It is a state-of-the-art facility and the centerpiece of the Gardiner-Kilby-Hammond revitalization project in Main South.

 

The 44,700 square foot building is impressive. It boasts a learning center with an iMac-equipped technology lab, the largest swimming pool in Worcester, a full-size gymnasium, a teen room, a recording studio, a full-size boxing ring, fitness equipment, a daycare center, and a kitchen and cafeteria. When the adjacent NCAA-regulation playing field (owned by Clark University) is complete, the Club will offer field hockey and soccer, even cross country skiing in the winter. But it is the kids and staff who elevate the bricks-and-mortar into transformation territory.

 

A good example of the Boys & Girls Club’s magic is the Club’s dance team. In Da Zone is a true powerhouse, with numerous trophies under its belt. IDZ won a national talent search last year over 300 other entries, and its director, Shauree Allotey, recently won a national merit award for excellence. The dance team has performed in Florida and New York, as well as all over New England. IDZ kids work hard for their success: Even the youngest members practice at least 2½ hours per week, and they all must maintain a B average and complete volunteer hours, to keep their place on the team. The discipline, hard work, and camaraderie are such a strong combination, it’s no surprise that the Club’s Youth of the Year for the last 5 out of 6 years has come from the dance team. (Speaking of, the Worcester Club has produced the Massachusetts State Youth of the Year – competing with representatives from the other 40 Clubs in the state — for three out of the last seven years!)

 

Hard work is not limited to In Da Zone. The Club has a long history of recruiting hard-to-reach kids, mainstreaming them into boxing and other high-discipline programs, monitoring them and advocating for them — and watching what happens when they decide to apply their Club lessons to the rest of their lives.”The Club saved my life. I can’t even explain what a difference it made to have staff who cared about me, challenged me, and saw my potential. I wouldn’t have the success I have today if not for the Club and staff,” said 3-time World Champion boxer Jose Rivera.

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It can be an uphill battle at the Boys & Girls Club. The three Clubhouses are located in the poorest areas in Worcester, and most of the Club kids are from these neighborhoods. Many of them have to overcome the vicious cycle of low expectations and the low aspirations they bring. Minority kids are among the most at-risk demographics in the country, with 40% of African-American and 42% of Hispanic youth dropping out of high school nationally. Since more than three-quarters of members self-identify as minority, Club staff keep this statistic in mind at all times, and they work hard to provide fun activities that the kids don’t realize are educational.

 

The Club is a safe space — to get homework help, take a yoga class, build a robot, or compete in a bumper pool tournament. Kids learn self-control and anger management, and talk through relevant issues like dating violence and peer pressure in discussion groups. Staff and mentors help them find their niche and their voice. Club kids develop self-esteem, so college or a career naturally follows graduation. At the Boys & Girls Club, the graduation rate is 97%, compared to 73.4% in the city of Worcester in 2013. Every one of the “Class of 2013” graduates is enrolled in college (97%) or in full-time employment (3%).

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The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester charges only $25 per year for membership, and doesn’t turn away kids who can’t afford to pay: Almost a third of members volunteer in lieu of part or all of the membership fee. There’s no fee-for-service, either – all after-school programs are free with membership. The programs cost more than $450 per child per year. All this might make you wonder about the executive team’s business sense, but there’s no denying that the Club model works. It has for 125 years and counting. The Club has provided safety, support, and guidance to generations of Worcester’s kids. Happy birthday, Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, and many happy returns! Here’s to another 125 years!

 

The Worcester Boys and Girls Club: a Worcester treasure

Can you guess what the following people have in common? Jose Rivera, three-time world boxing champion; Harry Levenson, music conductor; Gary Gemme, Worcester police chief; Jim McGovern, congressman; and John J. Conte, former district attorney. If you guessed that they were once members of the 122-year Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, then you are correct. For more than a century, the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester has provided programs and services to the city’s most disadvantaged youth and many of the Club’s alumni are leaders in the community today.

Much has changed since the Club opened its doors in 1889 on the third floor of the Barton Place laundry building, and provided programming for young “wayward” boys. In 1914 the Boys Club of Worcester underwent a $162,000 capital campaign to find a permanent home and build a Clubhouse on Ionic Ave. At the time of its construction, the concept of a facility dedicated solely to youth was unheard of and considered cutting edge.

Girls began officially participating in Club activities in 1979, and their level of participation increased over the years as did the number of activities specifically geared toward girls. On January 25, 1991, the name of the organization was officially changed to the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, formally recognizing girls’ membership at the Club.

In 1993, the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester began a pilot program with Great Brook Valley, the largest public housing project in New England. Initially, the Club’s involvement consisted of transporting 70 boys and girls from Great Brook Valley to the Ionic Ave. Clubhouse. By 1995, the Club, in conjunction with the Worcester Housing Authority, opened the doors to the Great Brook Valley unit to provide on-site programs, accessible to the over 1,000 youth who live there. Next, a service unit was developed in 2002 to respond to the needs of the kids living in Plumley Village, a low income housing development located near downtown Worcester. “The Club’s investment in Plumley Village and Great Brook Valley emphasizes its commitment and dedication to serving all of our city’s disadvantaged youth,” says Ron Hadorn, Executive Director.

In 2006, after a successful $9.5 million capital campaign, the Club moved from the aging Ionic Ave. building to a beautiful state-of-the art facility in the Main South section of the city. The new building is a testament to a community that embraces the Boys & Girls Club mission: “to help youth, especially those who need us most, develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and community leaders, through caring professional staff who forge relationships with our youth members and influence their ability to succeed in life.” Without the leadership and support from alumni, local businesses and foundations, Clark University, the Main South CDC and the city, the dream of a new building would have just remained that – a dream. The Main South facility is now a centerpiece of the Gardner-Kilby-Hammond project, a $35 million redevelopment plan to revitalize the neighborhood with new homes and athletic fields.

The Club’s 44,700 sq. ft. building incorporates multiple program areas including a learning center, technology lab, six-lane swimming pool, full-size gymnasium, games room, an arts suite, café, and preschool and school-age child care rooms. Thanks to the new facility, membership has more than doubled; it has grown from 1,350 youth in 2000 to over 4,000 members today. Average daily attendance has also increased from 175 to over 400.

The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester is a bustling place. At 3pm on a school day it’s filled with kids moving from the games room to the music room to the pool – and shouting greetings to their friends the whole time. But behind the laughter, and the kids being kids, some important services are being provided.

Many Club kids grapple every day with issues like high crime rates, cultural or language barriers, poverty, and lack of access to resources. Many are not safe for a good part of every day. These are issues that keep kids from doing well in school, and can prevent them from becoming healthy, responsible, and successful adults.

60% of Club members are from single-parent families, 83% are from minority ethnic groups, and 90% receive free or reduced-price lunch. Membership is only $25 per year, making the Club’s programs and services accessible to all youth. Rae Shawn, 15, is a member of the dance team, volunteers in the art room, and helps cook for Kid’s Café. He says, “Before the Club I used to go home and sleep after school, but now I have something fun to do.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester offers a variety of programs that attract and engage youth. “People used to see us as just ‘gym and swim’, but we are more than that. This year over 97% of our graduating seniors are attending college. That’s due to our education and career development programs that really push our kids to be their best”, explains Ike McBride, Director of Clubhouse Operations, and former Club kid.

There’s creativity everywhere you look at the Club. At any one time there’s art, dance, music, creative writing, and digital arts going on. The dance team, In Da Zone, has a case full of trophies. A kid who is interested in music can take keyboard or drum lessons, and then record their efforts in the recording studio. The Boys & Girls Club expands kids’ horizons by exposing them to the arts, at a time when budget cuts are forcing schools to cut back on these programs.

The Club’s flagship educational program is Power Hour, where volunteers from local colleges, under direction from program staff, provide daily homework help and tutoring. Last school year, 90% of the children who participated in Power Hour every day saw improvements of at least one letter grade in at least one subject. The Club also exposes teens to college, with tours and counseling, and helps them figure out the maze of financial aid applications. And high school seniors can apply for several college scholarships offered by Club donors. Those members who choose to enter the workforce are provided resumé writing and interview technique training. The Club also hires teen members as program assistants, giving them valuable work experience, and a boost to their resume.

Perhaps the biggest “hook” attracting teens to the Club is the sports and fitness program. The kids play basketball, rehearse cheerleading routines, swim, or work out in the boxing ring, while at the same time developing stress management skills, social skills, and discipline. It has short-term benefits, too – several recent alumni are attending college on sports scholarships. Ricardo Sotomayor, a recent alum and scholarship winner, who is now a sophomore at Nichols College, agrees, “I thought to myself, if I can work this hard in the ring, why don’t I just apply it to my schoolwork too?”

The Boys & Girls Club believes that service rewards both those who give and those who receive. Members are offered a variety of volunteer opportunities including helping out in the locker room, mentoring younger members, or participating in community service projects. The kids learn responsibility for their Club and their community, helping them to become future leaders.

The Club’s health and life skills programs help kids get – and stay — on the right path, by giving them practical ways to behave positively. SMART Moves is just one of our programs that help members practice life skills for nutrition, handling finances, resolving conflicts, avoiding substance abuse, and building healthy relationships.

The Club also provides family support and outreach services. Case workers provide services from individual counseling to providing eyeglasses. Kids Café serves a nutritious meal to 250 kids three nights a week during the school year. The Club partners with the Worcester Police to help young people at risk of joining gangs by providing job training and counseling, and instilling a work ethic through boxing and other sports.

The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester has a successful 122-year record of providing a safe place for disadvantaged kids to learn and explore. Worcester is full of “movers and shakers” who learned at the Boys & Girls Club how to be productive members of their communities. Just ask Congressman Jim McGovern, Chief of Police Gary Gemme, or world champion boxer Jose Rivera how the Club helped them realize their potential!