With today’s crime and violence rates among youth increasing, it’s evident that more needs to be done. One organization that puts hard work, funds, and thought into this concerning epidemic is the New Haven Boys and Girls Club. It is with great joy to announce that this terrific organization has recently celebrated their one hundred-fortieth anniversary. On Wednesday, November 9, 2010 the club held a great celebration to honor their success and achievements. The celebration event took place at the Graduate Club located at 155 Elm St. at 6:00 p.m. Longtime friends and supporters of the club were honored. The outstanding citizens included: Senator Toni Harp, Sheila Allen Bell, Bernie Garibaldi, and Alex Discepolo.
The Club started in 1871; even though the standards are still the same, there are new evolved challenges that require new evolved methods. The club was started by the Society of the United Workers to provide “warmth, entertainment, and friendliness for young boys,” according to club officials. To this day, it still gives youth a place to go after school. This is extremely important since many statistics indicate that most adolescent crimes occur between the afterschool hours of 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
In addition, the club is like a shelter against the violence of the outside world. It offers leadership, hospitality, and most importantly—friendship. Stephanie Barnes, Executive Director sent out a heartfelt statement, “Since our inception, the vision of the Club has grown and changed with the needs of our Members, as have our programs and services. We are now highly focused on academic success, mentoring, sports and fitness, family and civic engagement, and providing proven-effective programming for youth most at risk, including a new initiative, BE GREAT: Graduate – a strategy intended to prevent young people most at risk of dropping out of school. Our history and legacy in the community has allowed us to serve youth and create a unique trust with families for generations.”
With structured guidance, mentoring, and activities, the success rates are through the roof. A new aspect of the Boys and Girls Club is parental involvement. There are many Boys and Girls Clubs around America. However, the New Haven branch is unique; in 1977, the Boys & Girls Club of New Haven became the first Boys Club organization in the nation to offer full membership for females and change its name to the Boys & Girls Club instead. One can only hope that such a great and helpful organization can last for years to come and hopefully one day double those anniversary years.