In 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, Elizabeth Hammersley and sisters Alice and Mary Goodwin founded the first Boys Club. The organization grew into over 50 independent clubs and in 1906 they formed a national organization. In 1931 the organization renamed itself the Boys Clubs of America. Thirty years ago, in 1990, the organization was renamed the Boys & Girls Club of America. The name change was to honor and in recognition of the female members of the organization.
The Boys & Girls Club of America, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster locally, believes in elevating young women to reach their goals and succeed in life. It is the belief to give every girl equal access to opportunity and to assist them in building confidence, leadership skills, and life skills.
Research has shown that when girls receive support during their adolescent years, they are able to build the skills and abilities that will serve them for a lifetime and allow them to help change the world as confident youth and future leaders.
The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster provides life-changing programs, mentoring and experiences for girls in need. One example is the SMART Girls program, which assists girls to build self-esteem, positive relationships with others and skills to live healthy lives. The program includes fitness, education and self-esteem-related discussions. The program is designed to meet the developmental needs of girls ages 8 to 18 in three age groups members explore their own and societal attitudes and values as they build skills regarding nutrition, physical fitness, getting good health care, and developing positive relationships with peers and adults. According to its website, the population of children served by the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster is 55% female and 45% male.
Just days ago, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a $3.4 million dollar grant funding to help expand Boys & Girls Club of America programs in the state. The plan will also assist and support in local crime reduction. According to a news release from the governor’s office, “Half of the funding will be allocated to the Maryland Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, led by the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore, for the expansion of Clubs in areas identified through the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network.”
The funding will allow the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services to continue their work of crime reduction. The approach includes reducing adverse experiences for children in Maryland.
“Boys and Girls Clubs connect young people to caring adults and activities through mentoring and after-school programs,” said Executive Director Glenn Fueston of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services. “Making long-term investments in Maryland’s young people, prioritizing their well-being, and creating opportunities for positive community interaction are keys to creating conditions for them to succeed now, and long into the future, as stated in the press release.”
And $1.7 million awarded to the Maryland Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs will assist over 5,000 young people in the state through youth development programs. The expansion will create additional positive interactions of law enforcement members in communities and the youth who live there. The grant will also help underwrite expanded services, including successful virtual and mobile programs developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, additional club locations and continued delivery of youth development programs statewide.
Without question, this additional support from Governor Hogan and the state will aid our youth in addressing the new unique and unforeseen needs and challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Boys & Girls Club of Westminster and the Maryland Alliance of the Boys & Girls Clubs are determined to answer the call. They are diligently working to move forward in their communities doing whatever it takes to build great futures for our youth.
Tom Gordon is a member of the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster and he writes from Westminster. He writes every other Saturday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org