“School is where you learn, but the Club is where you figure out who you are,” says Charlestown Club Executive Director Derek Gallagher. These days, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB)’s nine Clubs are buzzing the energy of more than 8,000 members eager to grow, play, and explore alongside trusted staff. To Derek, the key to high-quality programming is allowing staff to pursue their own passions.
Many of these programs are made by our President’s Innovation Fund, an internal grant opportunity available to staff at all sites to encourage and financially support creative new programs. These programs can range anywhere from an international cuisine cooking club to investing and financial literacy. Whatever the theme, the idea comes from the staff member, their own passions, and the new interests of their members.
During our evening programs, members can sign up for additional free programs to pursue new passions and explore creative outlets. “My job is to make sure every kid feels included,” says Daylisa Rosario, Performing Arts Coordinator and Floral Arranging Program Leader. “The members get an opportunity to create and build from their own imagination using real flowers.”
Check out the programs in action below!
“One of the biggest things that I love about Dungeons & Dragons is the ability to search your own identity,” says Katie McGoff, Art Director and Dungeons & Dragons Program Leader. “I’ve had kids who are like, ‘I’m going to see what happens if my character uses they/them pronouns’ and get to explore that part of themselves.”
“With Anime Club, you learn not only about the thing you like, you learn about where it comes from, what it’s about, what it’s inspired by, the people who make it, how you can be involved in it someway,” says Dan Gould, Social Recreation Director and Anime Club Program Leader. “But also—if you feel comfortable expressing what you like in any space, you’re going to open up as a person.”
“They teach you how to be yourself by getting to know them, because they’re like a family,” says member Hidalee of Katie and her Dungeons & Dragons Program peers.
“Part of my whole thing as a staff is trying to be the person that I wish I had at the time,” Katie says. “At the end of the day, they have people who will fight with them, whether it be in the game or in real life, and they have friends forever.”
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