Recognizing The Boys and Girls Club of America
San Diego Kids Charities
Boys and Girls Club of America
It’s pretty likely that you’ve heard of the Boys and Girls Club organization over the years, and maybe you’re in tune with all the good that has stemmed from it since its early beginnings in 1860. But what exactly does this organization do, and who does it benefit? We’re here to demystify any of the ambiguity surrounding this organization and its instrumental role in society.
Boys and Girls Clubs all across the nation have this one goal in mind: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” This mission is the driving force that motivates volunteers and leaders every day to strive to create an environment where safety and learning are paramount, all while having fun. By providing professional, adult relationships that positively influence and benefit youth, they create lifelong connections, as well as become a role model for the children to rely on. Even just providing a safe environment is a huge deal for these kids after school or during the summer. Not a lot of those who attend the club grow up in a safe and stable environment, so when club leaders welcome them in, these clubs become a haven for them to really blossom. It’s a place where they can finally be themselves without any hesitations or fears.
Since its founding, the Boys and Girls Club has been comprised of individuals who seek to better their community, and specifically the youth in it. Under the guidance and influence of leaders within the organization, volunteers become essential to the process as they are the very connection between the children that come into the club and the community they will influence. These individuals are selfless and mindful, as they must be able to adapt to every unique situation and children who come from a variety of backgrounds. These are the true heroes who dedicate a portion of their day or week to be a positive force in a child’s life.
At over 4,000 clubs with youth ranging from under 5 years old to over 16 years old, around 4 million individuals across the nation have been shown the attention and care they deserve at the Boys and Girls Club. The most common age they serve are children in the 6 to 9 years old category, a time when they are still so young and impressionable; it’s the ideal time for them to be shown the comfort and support of the club. These children and teens come from a range of backgrounds that affect them in different and complex ways. However, no matter the seemingly difficult situation, leaders at the clubs are instructed to put the child’s interests and safety first, no matter what.
The outreach of the Boys and Girls Club isn’t purely for fun and games; leaders encourage personal growth and discovery through various programs that target most areas of life. One of the most important factors to be addressed in the lives of the tween and teen club members are “Health & Life Skills,” which features programs for maturing adolescents. From drug use prevention to learning about healthy relationships, these programs instill self-care and respect for oneself that are invaluable lessons for their future. Other programs encourage creativity and character building, playing sports and being part of a team. The “Education & Career” program focuses on getting teens on the right path with their educational goals and steers them to the right path for a future. It’s a club goal to reduce the number of high school dropouts and increase interest in higher education. From programs that encourage budgeting money to providing recreational activities to combat stress, the programs at the BGCA are vast enough to reach any child no matter their interests or where they’ve come from.
The Boys and Girls Club of America has a long history of outreach in the lives of youth, dating back over a century. Over 150 years ago, three women in Hartford, Connecticut saw the need in their community to get boys off of the streets and into more constructive activities. The Boys and Girls Club was thus born. It wasn’t until 1906, however, that clubs around the country began to affiliate with one another, forming an organization that would soon spread nationwide.
With sweeping popularity, the newly named Boys Club of America was awarded a U.S. Congressional charter in 1956 on the organization’s 50th anniversary. Finally in 1990, the national organization’s name was changed to the Boys and Girls Club of America to show the versatility of the organization and the public inclusion of girls as club members. In 2006, the organization celebrated its 100th year of public service and created a precedent for youth outreach. Since this time, the BGCA organization has continued to grow in volunteer numbers as well as youth reached. New goals of promoting education and healthy lifestyles have come to the forefront, while still ensuring the same vision the three women in Hartford first envisioned all those years ago.
There are over 4,000 locations nationwide that are helping to provide children and teens with the resources and the environment to thrive. With a handful of Boys and Girls Club locations in the San Diego area, it’s inspiring to see all the good that the organization accomplishes right in our backyard. Donating is a major way to pledge your support to the BGCA and to ensure their mission to benefit the lives of millions of children continues. To donate, visit greatfutures.org or donate your time and become a volunteer at one of the many locations nationwide. You never know what kind of child could be attending a club, waiting for someone just like you.
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