Forty years ago I enrolled my twin sons, age 3, at the BGCNW for swim lessons. This Club taught 47,000 kids to swim, crucial today because drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death for kids under six.
Then like today the swim team is Nationally known for winning the BGCA National Championship for consecutive years. The Marlins are led by Dennis Munson, a Club kid, who with his staff produced two Olympians, a Best New York State Swimmer, and helped others gain acceptance to colleges like Harvard, Columbia, University of North Carolina and Yale because they swam with the Marlins. That was reason enough to meet the BGCNW!
My kids loved the Club, so a few years later I signed them up for sports teams. Children from all socioeconomic backgrounds played together, the Club made it happen seamlessly. I liked that my children playing with a cross section of their community, a welcome change from their less than “real” life experience at home and private school.
One day I heard two Club children were living in a car– here in Westchester! That was my wake up call, it underscored the seriousness of the Club’s work and impact on our communities children lacking opportunity.
I joined the Board of Directors, an enlightening experience. Below lists some of what we do and why I’m dedicated to this extraordinary institution.
- The mission of Boys and Girls Clubs is to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Each Club is autonomous and customizes programs to meet it’s community’s needs.
- Our Club serves 500 and 600 youth daily of every color shape and size from ages 3-18 from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm—–and has done so FOR 78 YEARS!
- 40+ critical programs delivered in a safe place with committed teachers, mentors, tutors, and volunteers are offered
- Nestled among the country’s most affluent communities, 67% of our after school programming families live at or below the national poverty level of $25,000 annually, FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR!
- One example of programing we offer is, “ The Third Meal,” a robust nutritious food program serving 80,000+ free meals yearly, providing weekend food backpacks and holiday provisions ensuring our children eat healthfully.
- Annually we celebrate A Youth of the Year competition with teens competing on academic performance, commitment to community, and leadership. It culminates with a winner announced at our Gala, who then competes Nationally, and that winner is presented to the White House and Congress, and serves as the voice of youth for a 1 year term.
- BGCNW’s 2016 winner, Tatiana Restrepo, said, “my 14 years experience with the Club shaped me as a person; taught me to strive for what I want, and gave me confidence to reach my full potential.” She’s the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college in the US.
- For the last 8 years 100% of BGCNW high school seniors graduate high school on time and attend college or technical school, including “at risk” kids.
Every child needs someone to tell them they can do it; those voices are at your BGCNW. Saving and improving children’s futures is what we do, that’s why I’ve served for 43 years, and I plan on another 43, wish me luck!!
Seema says join me for our June 2 gala celebration honoring Annica & Daniel van Starrenburg! Click here to learn more.