Beauty in the Boys & Girls Club

Beauty in the Boys & Girls Club

To dream is a birthright.

In June, at his high school graduation, with a face beaming of pride and gratitude, my youngest child hugged me with so much love and said, “Mom thank you for letting me dream.”

To dream, one must recognize and understand the unadulterated need, joy and benefits of purpose and intention. Dreaming requires first the ability to envision, imagine and see something of beauty that exalts the mind spirit and heart. Second, design planning and implementation supports must be accessible.    

Beautiful, smart, generous, creative people are developing at the BGCNW, and they are giving back to our community. 

The mission of your BGCNW is to inspire and enable all young people–especially those who need us most–to realize their full potential as productive responsible caring citizens. 

Having served the community for 82 years, our key differentiator as a youth-based organization is civic advocacy and leadership. The lessons of recognizing  community, and the multitude of opportunities to provide support to these communities, are woven into all our programming.

All children are worthy of experiencing the unique feelings of purpose and generosity when helping others. Consistently supporting community members is a privilege and responsibility whereby one hones skills of leadership collaboration and friend-making. 

Examples of how our curriculum provides lessons in leadership, empathy and collaboration include: our pre-school children making capes for children in the hospital; the Middle School Torch Club creating book drops so all kids have access to creating their own home libraries; Liberty Keystone High School teens working in conjunction with Boys & Girls Club of America regarding environmental sustainability awareness and stewardship; all club kids supporting Youth for Unity and Youth of the Year promoting leadership and vision for improving lives in the future.

Nationally 87% of kids who regularly attend BGC programming, as adults, will consistently give back to their communities. Giving back to community is simply part of BGCNW DNA.

The Club is “home,” a family dwelling place, a place where you belong.

95% of Club staff went to the Club as kids. When staff were asked why they remained or returned to the Club the unanimous answer was: “I get to do what I love, be where I belong and help make kids better people.” 

Examples include our: Aquatics legend Dennis Munson who started the swim team 52 years ago; Director of Programming Athenia Lee; Fundraising Associate John Tunas; newly appointed Marlins Head Age Group Coach Connor White; and Director of Teen Programming Chris Beaudreault. 

BGCNW programming along with the team provides kids with the chance to grow self-confidence, imagination, and faith—the tools to dream. Then we ensure our members have the supports to design and create a plan to make the dreams come true; we never give up. 

Philanthropy is a business and there must be evidence-based impact: 

• For the last 13 years,100% of our high school seniors, including those designated “at risk,” have graduated high school on time and went on to University, the military or technical school.

• Annually, we serve over 125,000 nutritious delicious meals and snacks.

• We have taught more than 65,000 children to be water safe.

• BGCNW Marlins Swim Team can also claim 275 athletes, and in the past 30 years, over 500 Hall of FAME NESCAC college graduates from the world’s most prestigious institutions including Ivy League.   

• BGCNW Marlins is the Top 100 ranked club out of 3000+ in USA Swimming for the 2020-2021 swim year.

• It is an ethnically diverse program–over 50% of athletes identify as non-white.

• For 21 consecutive years BGCNW Marlins have held the Boys & Girls Club of America National Championship title.

Liz Brennan

“We came from diverse backgrounds but, we were all able to connect. My goal is to teach kids how to read, giving what I learned at the Club to my students.“ – Liz Brennan

At the Club Liz Brennan developed the self confidence to dream of being a teacher. At age 8, as a first generation American, she began her BGCNW experience as a Club kid attending after school programming. In the 9th grade she enrolled in the Counselor Mentoring Program. As a high school junior she helped start a camp leadership program. The Club helped prepare Liz for college and gave her a place to work while she was at college and completing her Masters’ and internships. 

As the CEO of BGCNW, I proudly spoke directly to the Principal of Crompound Elementary in Yorktown, NY, where Liz is now working as a 5th grade teacher giving back to our community. I shared Liz was innately intelligent with an unwavering work ethic and excellent childcare and teaching experience. Most importantly, she has a gorgeous heart, and the kids and community are her priority and joy.

John Tunas

“I love watching kids learn and the different transitions they go through at the Club, by securing funding for programming, I know more kids in our community will have great futures.” – John Tunas

At age 11, John Tunas came to camp where he built lasting friendships. He worked at the Club through high school and college. For over 25 years, his father Juan Tunas worked on the Horace Greeley High School Janitorial Team often requiring very long days at work. John’s Mom worked as well. 

John looked to the Club for life mentors who helped him become the first in his family to graduate from University. At the Club, John has held positions as Pre-School Teacher, Athletic Director and now, Fundraising Associate. John has been offered sales, marketing and entrepreneurial opportunities but is dedicated to Club fundraising. All three of John’s children attended pre-school, after school programming and Learn to Swim.

Connor White

“The community that makes up the club is one I grew up in and I wanted to share that same connection with a new generation of Marlin swimmers.” – Connor White

Recently promoted to Marlins Head Age Group Coach, Connor White first came to the Club as a young kid and dreamed of being a BGCNW Marlin. For 52 years, Coach Dennis has had a loving tradition of giving team members nicknames. “I dub thee Mini Me,” Dennis declared to Connor 22 years ago.

Connor learned discipline, respect, and being part of a team while swimming. Afternoons before practice were spent at the club playing four square or billiards in the games room, meeting new club kids in the computer lab, or playing basketball in the gym. He associated the club as a safe place with a close-knit community that allowed him to make new connections, be a kid, and play. Wonderful relationships were built facilitating a positive environment. Connor studied Exercise Science at Ithaca College, and was a nationally ranked collegiate swimmer. He holds three school records. Six years ago, after college, he came back to work at the club because he has roots here.

Torell Nugent

“As I look back and reflect, I am extremely appreciative of my time spent at the club. I discovered the importance of diversity, community, and what it means to lead by example.“ – Torell Nugent

Today, Torell Nugent is a Multimedia Associate Account Executive at Disney Ad Sales. He started at BGCNW at age three and attended after school programming through high school. After school began with a snack followed by school-work in a small classroom. States Torell: “Once I completed my homework, my attention would quickly shift directly towards a number of Club recreational activities. Being  on the field, gym, game room, or playground, I felt as though everything I could have ever wanted was at my fingertips. I quickly began to learn new skills and explore many of my passions. I fell in love with all things.”

“This was all made possible because of the outstanding staff at the BGC family. Day in and day out I received unconditional love and encouragement from everyone. My counselors became my mentors, friends, and teachers all in one. I have always revered them as the ultimate role models.”

“When it was finally my time to become a counselor, it was a dream come true. After nearly ten years of being a club member, it was my time to make sure my kids would have a similar, if not better experience than mine. I started as 2nd grade basketball coach and ended as a head counselor. I was getting paid to do something I loved, quickly realizing I was working my dream job.”

“Now as a member of the board I am able to incorporate my experiences in our community to continue to create life changing opportunities for the future generations.”

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