Our Local HistoryIn the late 1990s, a small group of concerned community members and business people watched as local youth blanketed the streets with little guidance and sometimes, no place to go. Kids who were left to their own devices as the economy, family life and other stressors had made being home, or being home alone, a less than desirable option. Thanks to these concerned citizens, Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County officially opened its first location, the Northtown Club, in 2001 in the 20,000 sq foot floor of the St. Francis Xavier School building. At the time, Spokane was the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a Boys & Girls Club.
The first years were the hardest. Questions like "would there be enough funding to keep the Club open?" and "would kids come?" haunted the few who put their lives, and wallets, on the line to make this dream a reality. After a lot of sleepless nights, it happened. Kids started to come, businesses started to take notice and financial support started trickling in. The community embraced the club and found a way to keep it alive during those early years.
Fast forward to 2007. The need for safe youth engagement and activities was on the rise and neighborhoods that saw the value of the Northtown Club were reaching out for help. In 2007, our second Club, the Be Great Club of East Central Spokane (formerly Libby Teen Center) opened its doors. Located within the old Libby Middle School, the Be Great Club is the smallest and most unique. With just 5,000 sq. feet of dedicated space, the Club had its share of tough growing pains. After careful consideration, Club leaders decided to temporarily close the Club in 2012 as a way to re-establish a better, more effective clubhouse that impacted its key members. The Club reopened after a few months, with one substantial change - it would be geared towards kids in 5th - 12th grade only. Since the re-organization, the Be Great Club has more than doubled its Club membership numbers.
Fast forward to 2010. A group of highly motivated residents joined forces with the organization and Mead School District to make sure kids on the north side had a positive alternative for its young people; in April 2010, the Lisa Stiles-Gyllenhammer Club opened its doors. Set in the old Mead Middle School, the Club was dedicated to a beloved teacher at Shiloh Hills Elementary who lost a long and brave battle with breast cancer in January of 2006. We are even more proud that this club has continued her legacy of impassioned excellence and going the extra mile for her kids every time.
Today, our three Clubhouses are making a powerful impact on the Spokane community and continue to strive to provide guidance, support and enrichment to the lives of kids every day.
Our National HistoryBoys & Girls Clubs of America had its beginnings in 1860 with several women in Hartford, Connecticut. Believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative, they organized the first Club and a cause was born. In 1906, several Boys Clubs decided to affiliate. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was formed with 53 member organizations, marking the start of a nationwide movement. In 1931, the Boys Club Federation of America became Boys Clubs of America.
To recognize the fact that girls have long been a part of our cause, the national organization's name was officially changed to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1990.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America marked its centennial year in 2006, celebrating 100 years of providing hope and opportunity to young people across the country. To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of America visit www.bgca.org