Each year, the youth, staff, volunteers, and supporters of Boys and Girls Clubs of America celebrate the organization during Boys and Girls Club Week. First held more than 75 years ago, the annual event now highlights the work of the over 61,000 adults who serve Club youth in US cities and at military installations overseas. This year’s Boys and Girls Club Week ran the week of April 9, with local Clubs and community partners participating in an effort to show why Boys and Girls Clubs are a place for youth to become the best versions of themselves.
Here’s a closer look at what happened across the country in celebration of Boys and Girls Club Week 2018:
Celebrating Community through Service Projects and Fun Activities
Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the United States rely on community support to provide a safe place for youth to learn, grow, and have fun. Boys and Girls Club Week provides a perfect opportunity for Clubs to open their doors to the public for fun activities that celebrate community while highlighting the importance of local youth programming. Many Clubs took advantage of this opportunity in 2018 by holding talent shows, sports competitions, family game nights, art shows, and Club open-house events. Others celebrated the week by bringing Club youth and their families together for community service projects.
In Glasgow, Kentucky, members of the Boys and Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County handed out basic needs kits to residents of a local low-income housing community. Youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada Carson Valley created care packages for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and Club members in Shreveport, Louisiana, spent a day beautifying a local public park. Other organizations that gave back during Boys and Girls Club week included the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of High Point in North Carolina, which hosted a cookie and punch party for senior citizens.
The Blue Door Decorating Contest
For the last several years, the Blue Door Decorating Contest has been a major component of Boys and Girls Club Week. The Lowe’s-sponsored contest gives youth the opportunity to show off their artistic skills and love for Boys and Girls Clubs by decorating a door at their local Club. Those who participate compete for a chance to win cash prizes.
In 2018 Boys and Girls Clubs narrowed a field of 646 competing organizations down to six regional finalists. The contest wrapped up on April 12 after online public voting selected Boys Club of Cicero in Illinois as the grand prize winner. The Club’s “Dream Free” design earned the organization a $20,000 grant courtesy of Lowe’s. Lowe’s also awarded the second-place Club a $7,500 grant and the remaining finalists $2,500 each.
Recognizing Outstanding Youth Development Professionals
In addition to the Blue Door Decorating Contest, Boys and Girls Club of America holds its Youth Development Professional of the Year contest in conjunction with Boys and Girls Club Week. The national contest recognizes the work of caring adults who mentor kids and teens at 4,300 Clubs nationwide.
Of the estimated 100 Club leaders nominated for the 2018 award, Boys and Girls Clubs selected five finalists representing Colorado, North Carolina, California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. This year’s winner, Raytrell Caldwell of North Carolina, took home $10,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne/Johnston Counties, where he serves as the teen program director. He also won a trip to New York City to see BCGA National Spokesperson Denzel Washington in Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh.
Welcoming New Club Facilities
Several Clubs across the country used Boys and Girls Club Week to celebrate the opening of new facilities. Club youth in Santa Cruz, California, got their first look at the refurbished Joe and Linda Aliberti Clubhouse in Scotts Valley. In addition to a lab with 12 desktop computers, the 3,000-square-foot facility features a new basketball court, a game room, and an art room. Club leaders are also installing a garden on the grounds.
In Maryland, Boys and Girls Club of Westminster opened doors on a new 20,000-square-foot facility that will eventually serve 600 local children and teens each day. The renovated building, located in downtown Westminster, was completed as part of a one-year, $5 million fundraising campaign. The space includes a library, book nooks, and a music and dance studio alongside two lounges filled with new furniture, games, and study areas. Eventually, the property will also feature a brand new gymnasium.
Along with those that opened new facilities during Boys and Girls Club Week, other Clubs announced the launch of new development projects. In Texas, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area unveiled details for a 10-acre East Austin campus that will provide programming for 1,000 area youth. Highlights of the planned 32,000-square-foot campus include art studios, a library, and a STEM learning center, as well as indoor and outdoor athletic facilities.