On June 2nd, 2023 more than 300 people joined in the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester’s (BGCNW) gala celebration. The theme of the evening was real storytelling with the common thread being how the Club serves as a second home changing the trajectory of generations.
Club Co-Presidents, Anne Citrin and Emily Stoddard, who shared their own connections with the Club and commitment to being champions of children introduced the honorees Philanthropists Kimberly and Andrew Handler. Andrew, a former board member, shared “Every time I visit the Club it is still overwhelming for me to see how this place contributes so much to the lives of so many.” He received a standing ovation after his presentation.
One of the featured storytellers was current Aquatics Director and Club Alum Eric Mitchell who shared that he had a very tough home life while growing up and the Club was his sanctuary. He had a bike accident at 15 and was told he would not swim again. “The last remaining thing in my life that gave me purpose was now taken from me. My chances of going to college were gone. I was devastated and completely hopeless. The folks that are involved with this organization rallied around me, built me up, and pushed me forward, I eventually accepted a full athletic scholarship to swim at Old Dominion University, earned a Masters degree from Columbia in Sports Management, coached college swimming for 7 years before finding my way back to the Club and every day I have the chance to make a kids day more enjoyable and be there for them to teach resiliency.
Torell Nugent, Club Alum, BGCNW Board VP and Account Executive at Disney explained that “The Club became my safe haven, support system, and my home away from home. I discovered new skills and explored my passions outside of academics. It was through these activities that I learned the importance of diversity, community, and leading by example and the importance of resilience, perseverance, kindness, and integrity.”
The third featured storyteller is the longest-serving board member, 38 years, and fondly looked to as the community Patriarch, Stuart Marwell. Mr. Marwell is also a Club alum, past Board President, and currently President of Curtis Instruments, Inc. He explained that his story with the Club was a family affair. “Generations of my family have supported and benefitted from the Club for years and we look forward to making sure that other children and their families have the same opportunity. I enjoyed all that the club had to offer – Basketball, crafts, the trampoline where I had to learn trust for those who spotted for me, and helping with community service projects such as planting the willow trees along the stream in Leonard Park some are still there today.”
To add to the storytelling theme guests were encouraged to participate by leaving a message on the audio guestbook or video booth and were treated to book art centerpieces created by Club kids. The event journal highlighted 15 Club Tales; inspiring stories from Club alumni, volunteers, and staff members of all ages. An amazing time was had by all.