Ray’s Blog

City Club at GBBGC– July 25, 2018

 

Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club prides itself on offering a range of activities for our teens throughout the year. One program we are particularly proud of is City Club. City Club transports our teens to NYC once a month to see and to experience museums, theater, historical sites and cultural events, many for the first time. Each adventure is eye opening, offering the teens a glimpse of the bigger world and all it has to offer them. The trips inspire them to dream of a career or develop a new passion or creative interest. This past year 39 teens participated in City Club.

In January, our teens visited the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in Astoria, Queens. MOMI is the country’s only museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of film making in all its forms. Embracing a wide range of subjects, from nineteenth century optical toys to the latest in digital art, MOMI explores every phase of the production, promotion, and exhibition of moving images. Our members had the opportunity to learn about special effects, stop motion animation, sound editing and voice overs. This trip encouraged our kids to explore the digital arts as both a creative outlet and a possible profession.

In March,our City Club kids attended the Phantom of the Opera. Our teens were so impressed with the skill, artistry and hard work that went into the sets, costumes and design of the Broadway production. As the longest running musical in Broadway history, the actors, dancers, and orchestra were wonderful. The whole experience was a treat and very memorable for our young audience.

For our May trip, our teens went on a Central Park Bike Tour. Covering over 6 miles, the kids rode bikes all over Central Park and saw Belvedere Castle, the Alice in Wonderland Statue and Strawberry Fields. This trip gave our teens a unique perspective of the NYC skyline and a newfound appreciation of this historic park. This prompted a discussion of the history, culture and urban planning of New York City.

On separate trips, the kids were also able to tour Green-Wood Cemetery, go on the Beast Boat Ride around Manhattan, celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, explore Belmont Park, and walk the High Line.  At the Club, we work hard to serve our teens. We provide a space for them to receive guidance and support, and to simply relax with friends. During the summer, our Teen Center is open for our drop-in program, our evening Basketball League, and Wednesdays Teen Trips. Please contact our Teen Director Stephanie Urio at 516-759-5437 x 13 or Stephanie.urio@gbbgc.orgto learn more about City Club and our other Teen programs.

Closed from June 22nd-July 7th

Just a reminder the Club will be Closed from June 22nd-July 7th. We will reopen July 9th for Summer Camp!!

Closing at 5:00pm on June 13th

The Club will close at 5:00pm on June 13th

Ray’s Blog

GBBGC’s Banquet of Champions 2018

On Wednesday June 13, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club will hold its 68th Annual Banquet of Champions at the Crescent Beach Club in Bayville. The wonderful setting with its spacious dining room and waterfront views makes it a festive occasion for our families. The dinner will honor more than 300 outstanding participants who excelled in all areas of club programming including sports and fitness, social recreation, technology, education, teens programming, and Youth of the Year.

This annual event continues to recognize the achievements and hard work of Club members who participate in the many programs offered by the Club. The evening also allows us to acknowledge our volunteers whose generous donation of time and talent has such a positive impact on our children. The Club has been holding a Banquet of Champions since its earliest days. In the 1950’s, our community came together to help build the Club into the community cornerstone it is today.

In our 68th year, we continue to promote the development of boys and girls by instilling in them a sense of belonging, usefulness and competence. To that end, the Club provides a diverse array of programming to attract and to retain boys and girls with a variety of interests and needs. By providing opportunities for leadership and teamwork, and with the fine example and support of our volunteers, we help our young members to develop character and self-confidence.

At the Banquet of Champions, we take the time to celebrate each child. I would like especially to congratulate Larissa Izaguirre, our New York State Youth of the Year who will be going to the regionals next week. I also wish to recognize our parent volunteers Ernestina Martinez (Larissa’s mom!) and Nicole Robison who are this year’s recipients of the Excellence in Volunteering Award. We are so proud of their accomplishments and appreciative of all they have meant to our Club, carrying on the tradition of volunteerism upon which our Club was founded.

Ray’s Blog

GBBGC’s Torch Club

A big part of our mission at Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is to give our kids a sense of confidence, competence and belonging. One of the most powerful vehicles for helping our young people to develop strong values and self-esteem is our Torch Club. As a nationally chartered leadership and service club for boys and girls ages 11 to 13, Torch Club reaches children at a critical stage in their lives.

At weekly meetings throughout the school year, Torch members identify service projects and then actively participate in their planning and execution under the guidance of their advisor, Danielle Laria. These service projects provide experience in the democratic process with each member having an opportunity to express their opinion and to cast their vote. Above all, Torch Club gives our young people a chance to give back and to contribute something of value to their community.

In the fall, the Club focused on helping children with special needs including the Theresa Academy in October and the Pal-o-mine Equestrian facility in November. The experience was rewarding, giving our Torch members the chance to see firsthand what other children cope with every day. They also visited with Veterans in Syosset on Veterans’ Day, expressing their thanks to these wonderful men and women. In December and January, the Club focused on less fortunate adults, serving dinner at the Men’s Shelter in Glen Cove and at the Peanut Butter Gang Soup Kitchen. Working at a soup kitchen and food pantry encouraged the kids to count their blessings and to realize how fortunate they are.

In February, the members organized a St. Valentine’s Day Dance at the Rosewood on the Sound assisted living facility in Bayville. The kids brought decorations they made and compiled a playlist of songs they thought the seniors would like. The kids danced and chatted with the residents, making sure everyone had a good time.

In March, the kids turned to one of their favorite charities, one that helps abused and neglected animals, the Freeport Animal Shelter. Using recycled materials, the teens made cat and dog toys. They brought them to the Shelter, played with the dogs and cats, and made a donation to benefit the animals. Another area of focus for the Torch Club was the environment. The kids visited the Sophia Garden, an organic farm that grows food for low income families. The Torch Club toured the farm and helped to plant seeds in April.

We are so proud of our Torch Club and know that they are well on their way to becoming the community leaders of tomorrow. Our Torch Club teaches young teens about setting goals and achieving them. It helps them to realize that they can make a difference and that by working together, they can achieve great things.

Ray’s Blog

Grenville Baker and the BGCA National Conference – May 9, 2018

This past week, members of our staff and Board of Directors travelled to San Diego, CA to attend the National Conference for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. More than 2,500 of BGCA’s best and brightest attended, from influential board members to professional Club executives and their U.S. Military counterparts who operate youth centers on bases around the globe. All the attendees were eager to learn about the latest strategies and techniques in the youth development field. It was wonderful and inspiring to have the opportunity to meet other BGCA professionals and to exchange ideas with them.
Born out of necessity 118 years ago, the BGCA Movement stands for what is best about our country: our willingness to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. In 1860, the burgeoning Industrial Revolution had transformed many towns and cities in the northeast. With so many workers putting in long hours at factories and mills, little provision was made to care for their children. The citizens of the city of Hartford, Connecticut took notice of the number of children left without necessary food, shelter and supervision.

Civic minded individuals joined together to form a Club, choosing a venue and providing a range of activities for young boys. Over the years, Boys’ Clubs have been formed throughout our country, Native lands, and military installations, and have come to include girls as well. These Clubs have evolved over the years to meet the changing needs of our children and our communities. In good times and bad, the Clubs have strengthened our country, providing a place for young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
At the conference, our Club staff and board members attended programs in their areas of interest. The theme of the conference was “Great Futures for 2025: Our Call to Action for America’s Youth” and the chairman was SONY’s President and COO Michael Fasulo. We also enjoyed seeing this year’s Hall of Fame inductees. This year’s class included sister and brother basketball stars Michelle and Matt Bonner (BGC Central New Hampshire), NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Davis (BGC of Greater San Diego), recording artist Jason Derulo (BGC of Broward County, FL), professional wrestler Hulk Hogan (BGC of Tampa Bay), and 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White (BGC of Carlsbad, CA).

One particularly memorable moment at the Conference was when the National Youth of the Year, Carlos P. spoke about his Club in Clifton, NJ and what it meant to him. He will be attending the Dartmouth College this fall and he described how being a Club kid helped him to succeed. The Club’s dedicated staff made him feel important and valued. What an impressive young man!

Ray’s Blog

The Cushing Memorial Athletic Fields

After a long wait, spring is finally here. With the warmer weather, we are once again mindful of how fortunate we are to have such beautiful fields for our kids to play on. The foresight and generosity of our founders provided almost two and a half acres of open land in the middle of Locust Valley for the enjoyment of future generations. Over more than six decades, these fields have been a wonderful place for kids to run, to play and to have fun.

In the late 1940’s, when local citizens came together to create a Boys Club in Locust Valley, donations poured in but finding land with space for both athletic fields and a club house was the biggest challenge. At first, they thought their prayers were answered when Mr. and Mrs. Hunt Dickinson offered to donate 6 acres, but zoning laws prohibited the building of a club on the property. Within a year, Mrs. George F. Baker of Peacock Point offered to help. In memory of her son Grenville, Mrs. Baker donated the funds needed to purchase land on Forest Avenue and Weir Lane and to build a clubhouse there. By December of 1950, Grenville Baker Boys Club was built and dedicated.

According to founding member Pat Eliseo, the overgrown expanse behind the Clubhouse was lovingly known to local boys as “Rats Stadium” because of the many field mice who called it home. By 1959, the acres (and mice) had been cleared out and the athletic fields landscaped under the direction of Jim MacDonald, owner of M&A Landscaping. The fields were dedicated to Charles G. Cushing and funded by his friends’ generous donations in his memory.

From those early days until today, the Cushing Memorial Athletic Fields have seen countless practices and games of football, baseball, softball, soccer and more. They have been an invaluable resource for our Club’s fitness and sports programs, as well as special events such as barbeques and Day for Kids. The fields have been shared with numerous other organizations such as the Locust Valley Bayville Soccer Club, the Bayville Baseball League, several local softball teams, and more.

The Club takes great pride in the care given the fields by our athletic and maintenance staff. We feel incredibly blessed, knowing how rare it is for a Boys & Girls Club to even have athletic fields. Last weekend, the Club was fortunate to have some hardworking volunteers from Old Navy come to assist our athletic staff in our annual spring field clean up. After a stormy winter, there was plenty of debris to gather and remove. Our staff was then able to groom the softball and baseball fields, laying down the lines, the pitching mound, and base paths in preparation for the season.

As we saw Friday, our fields are used for more than athletics. Our very own Keystone Club had a special event on the field to celebrate unity and tolerance in our community. As part of a national Keystone initiative, the teens put their heads together to design and construct a community art project to represent their “United We Stand” theme for 2018. After working with representatives from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, Club member Alex Thorpe created the concept of a multi-colored yarn web to represent peaceful co-existence and tolerant understanding for all people. Poles representing different human traits were planted in a circle with a different color yarn tied to each. The yarn was then extended across the circle by Keystone members, each intertwining with the other to symbolize how we are all unique but connected in many different ways.

As our Club kids enjoy playing on our athletic fields this spring, we will have occasion to look back and to celebrate our Club’s history and all the many generous folks who worked together to bring us here. We will also keep the sentiment of our Keystone project in mind, looking ahead with hope to a new season for our young athletes and our community.

Ray’s Blog

Living a Healthy Life at Grenville Baker – April 25, 2018

Since 1950, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club has had a strong tradition of promoting athletics and fitness. From its earliest days, our mission has centered on providing a positive environment within which young people can thrive and grow. A big part of helping young people to reach their full potential is teaching them the keys to a healthy life. An understanding of how to pursue an active life goes hand in hand with developing a strong sense of self confidence.

In order to achieve this goal, we teach our kids to view their health holistically, looking to find a balance and to address the needs of both Mind and Body. Our staff focuses on the practical steps each child can take in order to keep fit, eat right and form the positive relationships needed to support a healthy lifestyle.

Friendships are also very important for the healthy development of school age children. One simple, but important benefit of our after school program, is the chance for our kids to run and to play with friends. Enjoying time with friends teaches kids valuable social skills such as communication, cooperation and problem-solving. Running and playing keeps them active, avoiding sedentary behavior.

Studies have shown that a child sitting at home on the sofa watching more than an hour of TV a day is more likely to be overweight, to have difficulties falling asleep at bedtime, and to struggle at school. At the Club, with so many fun activities available, video games, TV and computer time is naturally limited. Our kids are busy socializing and trying out a range of active and interactive pursuits. This past winter the Club was buzzing with activity. It was a banner year for our Basketball League with 580 children of all ages playing a sport they love. Our Gymnastics program has also grown from a handful of participants a few years ago to more than 200 young gymnasts this season.

Throughout the year, our kids are encouraged to try a range of activities. This is especially helpful for a child who has not found their sports niche yet, giving them a chance to discover and to choose a sport they enjoy. To provide those opportunities this spring, in addition to the traditional sports of Baseball, Softball, Soccer, and Gymnastics, we have added Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pilates, and Taekwondo. Our kids have fun playing Flag Football, Kickball, Dodge Ball and Ninja Warrior Challenge. Open Gym time is available for pickup basketball as well.

Another important piece of teaching about a healthy lifestyle at the Club is our cooking program. Last year, we updated and improved our kitchen to accommodate and to ensure the safety of our young chefs. To encourage our kids to limit the amount of fast food they eat each week, we provide our kids with the opportunity to learn the ABCs of cooking simple, healthy and economic meals for themselves and their families with lots of hands on fun in the kitchen for Grades K through 5. Our newly renovated Teen Center has its own kitchen facilities for making smoothies and preparing healthy snacks.

We also teach our kids how to read food labels and to pay particular attention to the amount of saturated fats, grams of sugar and sodium, and number of calories per serving they eat. Combining this practical knowledge of nutrition with a proper balance of physical fitness and positive relationships, members of our Club are well on their way to reaching their full potential and to living a healthy life.

Ray’s Blog

Summer Programs for our Teens – April 18, 2018

 

With the long winter behind us, spring is here and summer is fast approaching.  We all look forward to this time of year when the days are longer and the weather is warmer. Summer vacation will provide a wonderful chance for our kids to take a break from their school work and to enjoy a change of pace. But summer can also be a challenge for families with teens left without a positive outlet and without adult supervision.  A bored teen with too much free time can lead to potential trouble, risky behavior and questionable decisions.

 

At Grenville Baker, we want our teen members to have a fun, safe and enjoyable summer.  We want them to make positive choices.   With our newly renovated Teen Center, our teens can enjoy having fun with friends in a comfortable place they can call their own, a place that encourages them to engage in productive activities. It is these positive choices that help our teens on their way to becoming independent young adults.

 

For families, managing the teen years can be difficult. Camps and other summer programs can be expensive and require a big commitment of time and money. Our Summer Teen Drop-In Program at the Club provides an easy and reasonable option.  Free of charge with a Club Membership, this program takes place 12 noon to 6 pm every Monday through Friday from July 9through August 24.  With an annual membership of $40, teens can come to the Club to hang out and to participate in activities such as Water Days, Bike Trips, and Cooking Classes.  During the school year, they can participate in College Prep, City Club, Drama Matters, Keystone Club and more.

 

In addition to the Teen Walk-In Program, we have our Teen Summer Field Trips which take place every Wednesday.  Teens are invited to enjoy a fun trip each week for a small fee, including Dave and Busters (July 11), Six Flags Great Adventure (July 18), Beach Day (July 25), Paintball (August 1), a Mets Game at Citi Field (August 8), Adventure Park at Long Island (August 15) and Splish Splash Water Park (August 22). Registration is required and space is limited so please sign up soon. A College Tour is also planned for later in the summer.

 

Our Summer Basketball Night League is for kids in Grades 6 to 12 and College. The League runs from July 9 to August 10, with two games a week at a fee of $75. Teens can also participate in our other sports and specialty programs including Camps for Basketball (July 9 – 13 and July 16 – 20), Technology (July 23 – 27 and August 6 – 10), Baseball (July 30 – August 4), Art (July 30 – August 4), and Golf & Tennis Off Site (July 23 – 27) as well as Travel Camp with three trips a week (July 9 – August 24).

 

Please call the Club at (516) 676-1460 x 16 for more information on our summer programs for teens. Registration is available online at www.gbbgc.org.

 

 

Ray Reyes

Ray’s Blog

Blue and White Gala at the Creek

GBBGC June Dance – April 11, 2018

On Saturday, June 2, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club will celebrate our 68th Annual June Dance with a Blue and White Gala at the Creek Club in Locust Valley. That night, we will recognize five inductees into the GBBGC Hall of Fame: Eileen Duffy, Elizabeth and Frank Ingrassia, and Jean and Scott Simensky. These individuals will be honored for their many contributions to the Club and for their dedication to helping the children of our community.

Since 1950, the Club has been serving children and their families in the greater Locust Valley area. The Club provides a safe place where children can learn and grow while building lasting friendships and developing a solid foundation for their future. All Club programs strive to provide our youth with a sense of belonging, usefulness, influence and competence. The Club cannot carry out this mission alone. We rely on the talents and generosity of our donors and volunteers.

The Blue and White Gala is our single largest special event and monies raised help sustain the Club throughout the year. The success of the event depends upon the energy and tireless support of so many. We greatly appreciate the members of our Dance Committee and our phenomenal Chairwomen Andrea Cilmi, Libby Imperio, Dawn Kallman, and Melissa Meister; these ladies devote countless hours to make this event possible. We also appreciate our wonderful staff at the Club whose diligence and care help to make the Gala one of the top events of the year.

All funds raised from the Blue and White Gala directly support more than 80 programs and activities at the Club, benefitting more than 1,300 children from ages 5 to 18. Through the Gala, generous supporters of the Club can take the opportunity to sponsor Club programming including Technology, Keystone Leadership Club, Education, Teen Programs, Summer Day Camp, Arts, and Club Athletics. Most of all, the Gala affords us a unique opportunity to come together in a beautiful setting and to celebrate the significant impact the Club has on our children. If you are interested in being a Dance sponsor and/or guest, please contact Kathy Santucci at (516) 759-5437 ext. 25.