An Alum’s “Tern” to Teach

During Science Week in July, Club Alum and Nassau County Judge Hon. David (Dave) Gugerty visited with our campers to explore the wonders of nature right in our own backyard.

For our youngest campers, Dave group took a nature walk down to Long Island Sound for a scavenger hunt along the shoreline. Later in the week, he met with our older campers at Stehli’s beach to teach about and guide the kids in observing local birds, such as osprey and terns. While he explained the efforts being made to protect these wildlife and their habitat, the kids enjoyed using a scope to zoom in on the osprey nest with three babies.

We thank Dave for his time and passion to teach our kids the importance of conservation and appreciation for our animal friends!

If you have an expertise to share, let us know. Contact

Crayons, Backpacks, and Masks.

For families of young children, August has traditionally been a time for back to school shopping while savoring the last weeks of summer in anticipation of the first day of school. In our community, and indeed across the country, this year is different. In the wake of COVID-19, new crayons, sneakers and notebooks are not the focus. Instead, the next few weeks are fraught with questions and concerns about what the approaching school year will look like. Decisions are being made by local schools that will have both immediate and long-term impact on our kids and their families. 

Since the shutdown in March, many working families are desperately looking for help as they seek to find an impossible balance between the demands of the workplace and the needs of their children. And while many youngsters have been negatively impacted by the prolonged closure of schools, those from low income households have faced the biggest challenges. The stopgap measure of remote learning can’t fill the gap for most kids, but especially for poorer students who face barriers such as limited computer use, poor wifi and internet access. 

At Grenville Baker, we are ready to help. We understand that we have an important role to play in our area’s recovery. As a first step, in preparation for the fall, we have met with our local schools and have learned that plans are being made that call for both flexibility and preparation. There are various scenarios of what school will look like including a combination of in school and remote learning with staggered in school schedules for students. The challenge for the schools and our Club is to be ready to respond in real time to living with a pandemic without a crystal ball.  

As we approach September, we will continue to work in concert with our schools, adjusting and adapting to provide a safe place for our kids to go when school is out. We will make it possible for working families to return to work by providing a safety net of affordable care. Our schedule may change, but our role will not. Going forward, students will need the extra support we can provide both academically and emotionally. Children who struggle in school will need extra assistance so as not to lose ground permanently.  

With our construction project progressing, we expect to be in our renovated Clubhouse in early 2021. For the fall, we will secure the use of our off-site locations at the Bayville Recreation Center, Locust Valley Reformed Church, and St. Patrick’s Church. We anticipate challenges with staffing and execution, but our veteran program staff is pulling together to find a workable solution. We will institute measures that safeguard everyone including wearing face masks and gloves, disinfecting all furnishings and equipment, social distancing in all play and study areas, prohibiting the sharing of food or other items, staggered arrival and dismissal times, and increased use of hand washing stations. 

The COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath will once again require our Club to adjust and to adapt to ensure that we are here to serve our community and our children. With your support, we are confident that we can meet this challenge, not just because of our history, but because of the people who make up Grenville Baker. 

Grenville Baker Celebrates Its College Prep Graduates

The Class of 2020 was exceptional, and our high school seniors left their mark as positive role models for younger Club members. Most teens in this group joined theClubas small children,andover their elementary and middle school years, benefitted from Homework Help and having a safe place to learn and to have fun.  

As they enteredhigh school,theyparticipated inour community service clubs, physical fitness, and cultural arts programs. Along the way, they developed as individuals,strengtheningtheir character, their bodies, and their academic performance.This group of teens were also fully immersed inGrenville Baker’s College Prepprogram, which includedSAT classes, college visits and fairs — as well asassistance with applications, financial aid forms, and interviews. With many ofthe Club’sstudents being the firstonesin their families to consider attending a university, many looked totheClub to guide them through the entire admissions process and beyond.  

After all their commitment and hard work, we couldn’t let this amazing class of 2020 begin the next chapter of their lives without a proper Grenville Baker send off!  

Because of COVID 19, we held our virtual College Signing Day Celebration by Zoom at the end of May. Executive Director Ramon Reyes began the celebration by congratulating our graduates.  His remarks about how proud we were for our kids was echoed by our Teen Director Stephanie Urio, who has worked tirelessly with each senior, helping them to expand their horizons and to realize the dream of a college degree.  

Past Keystone President and Youth of the Year Andres Cisneros spoke to the graduates about his experience in college and how the Club helped him to get there and succeed after high school. In fact, he also praised Teen Director Urio for providing helpful advice when he needed it while at Loyola, where he just finished his junior year as a communications major. Andres affectionately reported that Urio was only a phone call away and always ready to help (Andres has made the Club proud. A natural leader and a tireless volunteer, it is no surprise that Andres has been elected President of three different volunteer clubs while working as an RA and at a part-time job at Loyola.) 

During the ceremony, our 2020 graduates shared their choice of major and future career plans including entrepreneurship, film, physician’s assistant, technology and the everpopular “undecided.” The college choicesofthis year’s graduation classincludedHofstra University, Ithaca College, Nassau Community College, SUNY Buffalo, and SUNY Cortland. Board member and past President Nassau County District Court Judge Colin O’Donnell also congratulated the group and announced the award of $23,000 in scholarships. Theevent ended with a virtual round of applause acknowledgingthe hard work and dedication thatbrought these teens to this happy occasion. 

Grenville Baker is grateful for the grants received fromLong Island Community Foundation, Nassau County Bar AssociationWE CARE Fund, New York Community Bank Foundation, and Charles Schwab Foundation to support our College Prep program, in addition to the generous gifts from individual donors in our community. Their generosity made all this possible, ensuring a brighter future and helping to make the dream of college come true for so many. 

Opening Doors for a Brighter Future

In mid 2019, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club began construction on a bold project to expand and improve our Clubhouse to provide a diverse mix of recreational and educational spaces that is both inviting and fosters the wellness and success of all kids. In fact, in conceptualizing our renovation, our architect, builders, staff, and young members all weighed in on the kinds of settings and design elements that excite kids, nurture positive social and educational interactions, and encourage continued Club involvement over time. As we progress on our construction project, the excitement is growing, and our projected completion date of January 2021 couldn’t come at a more opportune time. With the COVID shutdown and all it has meant for our children and teens, the need for our programs has never been greater. 

Before the “pause, we had made substantial progress on the Project, though much of it was structural andnot always visible from the street. All concrete slabs had been poured and all structural steel and foundation work completed. Retaining walls, storm drains, and leaching pools were put in place and the new septic system, underground piping, and upgraded gas and electric had been installed. Mechanical, sprinkler and fire alarm systems were installed. The exterior work had begun on the front and rear additions and the framing of interior walls was in progress.  

Since returning to work, our crew has completed the framing for the 8,000 sq. ft. rear addition and the 1,000 sq. ft. front addition. They have roughed in the interior electrical and plumbing. The new HVAC unit and the ductwork have been installed. The interior framing and sheetrock have begun. Excavation of the new parking lot is under way.   

Therenovated clubhouse will incorporate natural light, sustainable materials and an inviting aesthetic to create a welcoming space for our community’s children.But beyond the newness of steel beams and safety features is the promise of new possibilities for our kids. Our modern facility will provide traditional and non-traditional learning spacesand multi-purpose facilities for recreation, athletics, gathering and play. There will be a dedicated space for the youngest members, studios for art and dance, a public meeting room,andnew teenand tweencentersfor middle and high school students.There will be tutoring and quiet learning spaces, digital media and technology labs, dining and gathering spaces, and a teaching kitchen. Ultimately, there will be a special place for everyone.  

Curious about what’s happening next? You need not remain an onlooker to our construction site. In fact, we are eager to share our vision with you and invite you to schedule a “hard hat tour.” Contact Ray Reyes at (516) 759-5437 x 217 

A Lesson in Business With A Side of Buffalo Wild Wings: A Delicious Lesson in Financial Literacy.

Thanks in part to a generous grant from the Charles Schwab Foundation, each year Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is able to offer its Money Matters program, which teaches teens how to manage a checking account,create a budget,and save for their future. We know that these basic money management skills give our kids the practical foundation they need to reach their full potential and to achieve their dreams at college and beyond.   

Over the past year, our teens learned about topics that ranged from the pitfalls of credit card debt, to the benefits of healthypersonal credit scores, to what it’s like to own a business. We even covered how to apply for financial aid for college (for teens and their parents). Our program also included live presentations from volunteers from the business world who came to the Club to talk to the kids about the cumulative impact of their spending habits and the positive benefits of saving and fiscal responsibility. 

One of the highlights of this years Money Matters program (before the COVID shutdown) was a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings in Hicksville. The General Manager, Kevin Green, spent valuable time with the kids to talk to them about general business operations, managing staff, and the difference between managing a franchise and a privatelyowned business. It was an informative trip that taught our members a lot about business in an interactive, engaging (and delicious) way.  

Despite the recent months of taking our Money Matters curriculum virtual, the kids continued to learn valuable lessons. One of our participants, Anthony, remarked that, “The pandemic and its fallout made me really want to save and to learn about how to manage my money. It’s scary but it is also motivating.  

We have always known that financial literacy not only builds confidence in kids, but also fosters independence for the long term. 

And this year, we had further affirmation of the value of this program. Just a few weeks ago, we learned that one our teens in the program who is heading off to college in the fall, Jimmy Mejia (who is also our 2020 Youth of the Year!), was awarded a Money Matters Scholarship by the Charles Schwab Foundation. From a large pool of Boys and Girls Club of America applicants from around the country, Jimmy is one of only 11 teens to win this prestigious award!  In accepting this honor, Jimmy was given a chance to showcase much of what he had learned in the program, sharing with representatives of the Foundation all he knew about Roth IRAs and 401Ks! 

We are so proud to know that Jimmy has many of the tools he will need to manage his finances responsibly… and based on his conversations with the Foundation, it seems like he might even be ready to start saving for his retirement!

Purpose. Strength. Pride. Our Teens, Keystone and the Community

Since the beginning of the quarantine, our Teen Director, Stephanie Urio, has stayed in touch with our teens on a regular basis, calling to check on their physical and emotional well-being. The teens have shared their sadness about missing friends, school, the Club, and all the traditional spring events that were cancelled. Despite these challenges, Stephanie was pleasantly surprised by their resilience as a group and the strong desire they expressed to keep their Keystone Club going, improvising, and finding safe solutions to achieve their goals.   

Zooming in to Kids’ Well-Being 

Keystone began the month of April with their first virtual Zoom meeting. They were happy to see each other and excited about the prospects of moving forward with their plans. To start the meeting, Stephanie invited a special guest speaker from the Long Island Crisis Center. “Before we could effectively help others, I explained to the members, it was important to make sure we were all feeling strong and getting help ourselves,” said Stephanie. The guest speaker started with an emotional check in, comforting the members and offering positive coping skills to use in life and, particularly, in a time of crisis. The members were fully engaged, asking questions and expressing their thanks. It proved to be a great way to kick off virtual Keystone and to keep the members connected.  

Earth Day Celebration 

For their first project during our “shut down, the teens partnered with the North Shore Land Alliance to celebrate Earth Day. The idea was for our teens to learn about the environment and how to preserve it, while having fun. Alliance representative Jane Jackson suggested several local preserves that were still open for walks and taught the teens to identify local wildlife and native plants, while discussing ways to practice conservation at home throughout the year. The members enjoyed an Earth Day scavenger hunt designed to get them outside, experiencing nature, and taking pictures of everything from litter (bad!) to flowers (good!). The animals seemed to be the hardest thing to find, proving reluctant to show themselves or to be part of the celebration. The teens persevered and the scavenger hunt was a hit. The winners of the competition were awarded with a pizza delivery to their house.   

Helping Families in Need 

Later in April, the teens held a successfulvirtual Bingo Fundraiser. Originally planned to support their trip to the Keystone Conference, the fundraiser was converted to a virtual event to help feed local families and children in need during the crisis. The members planned and advertised the event. They invited staff, alumni, and their peers. One silver lining was that some people who wouldn’t normally have been able to participate were able to log on and play. Nicole Luengas, a former Keystone member, supported the current members by playing from her dorm room at SUNY Buffalo.  After some lively competition, the event raised $255 and proved to be a positive lesson in turning disappointment into something great, all for a good cause. 

Lessons in Emotional Wellness & Paying it Forward 

Each year the Club completes a National Keystone project and this year the call to action focused on Emotional Wellness. Keystone Clubs across the country were charged with working to support their peers and to help them develop coping skills. The theme was particularly apt during the pandemic. The teens began the project in February, opting to create a PSA to let teens know that they are not alone and that it is okay to seek help. The members started the project in February, adapting as COVID limited their options and reframed the narrative. The script had to be updated to reflect the new reality of social distancing and members filmed their individual segments at home. Anthony Aguilar added the voiceover and Joe Valli wrote and performed the original piano music for the background.  Everything was submitted to Jimmy Mejia who edited and spliced all the pieces together.

In early May their PSA was completed with the hope of reaching other teens who are struggling, encouraging them to call the Long Island Crisis Center.  

May and June brought new chances to serve their community. For Memorial Day, our Keystone Club found a way to honor those who have gave all for our country by writing thoughtful messages and placing flags in front of the Club. It was a beautiful expression of thanks. 

In June, Keystone ran a food drive on two Thursdays to collect supplies for NOSH, a local organization that serves local families in need. Keystone also participated in a Cycling for Change Freedom Ride fundraiser. In the face of COVID, their annual bike race was adapted to include stationary bikes, running, and trail biking, all to raise funds to help end human trafficking and exploitation in the world. We look forward to following the good works of our Keystone Club throughout the year. 

Our Doors Were Closed… But Our Creative Minds Stayed Open Through Art 

Over the past few months, our art programming has had to adapt to the times. Thanks to the family of William Hinckley, GBBGC held a its first Virtual Art Contest in May. How fitting it was that the Hinckley family who stepped forward to sponsor the event to provide a fun way for our kids to stay positive and creative at home. After all, no one was more instrumental in developing the curriculum at our Club in its early days than our first executive director William Hinckley.   

During our “COVID shutdown,” Amanda, our art instructor, incorporated fun virtual lessons in art via Zoom with fun crafts for our kids to do at home using common household items. These creative projects have run the gamut, ranging from rocket ships to flowers.  

To encourage kids to keep participating, we created a Virtual Art Contest with the theme: “What advice would you give to someone to be safe, happy and healthy during quarantine?” The Club received 36 entries from kids ages 5 – 18 and the submissions included artwork, videos, poems, and essays. After careful consideration, an esteemed panel of judges awarded prizes to the winners in each age group. On May 21 and 22, the staff stopped by the homes of all of the winners to drop off their prizes.  

One very special presentation went to two sisters in kindergarten and third grade, who won awards in their respective age groups. Their mother Laura wrote the Club: “Thank you for making the girls feel like rock stars today! They were so excited when they found out they were winners and the front porch award presentation made it extra special.

The girls warmed everyone’s hearts by choosing to donate their winnings to NOSH, the local organization that helps feed families in need.We were happy to hear that mom and dad will be rewarding them with some ice cream for their generosity!  Thanks to you and the entire GBBGC family for all you do!” wrote Laura.The Club is such a special place and we feel so fortunate to have it in our community.   All our best to everyone.  We hope to see everyone again very soon!”  

Cycling for Change Event


Keystone Club has been a long-time supporter of Cycling for Change since its creation. So when they introduced the idea of organizing an event to help break the cycle of human trafficking the teens were happy to participate. People were invited to join in this virtual event by walking, running, or biking. Then they were instructed to post their pictures using #ihatetraffik to social media to show that they were involved from wherever they were. The teens from Grenville Baker headed to the Jones Beach Path that starts out of Cedar Creek Park to show their support. This is one of their favorite spots to go as a group and the members were glad to have the chance to go on such a nice day. Some of the members biked the five miles all the way down to the beach and others walked part of the path. They were a little winded after so much time in quarantine, but they made it to the end and back. They were very excited for water though. The members handed in money for the cause and they donated it to Cycling for Change through their website. John Cruz said, “It was nice to feel useful and do something good and feel connected to something.” John expressed the sentiments of the group overall and it was a very productive last community service project for the year.


Memorial Day

Grenville Baker and the Locust Valley CommunityMay 20, 2020 


Each year, Memorial Day is a time to count our blessings and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Here at Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, we are constantly reminded that one of our greatest blessings is our community. Even in the face of a pandemic, local residents have been reaching out, finding ways to work together to help those in need.

Our community has a history of coming together to solve each new challenge. Beginning with the Matinecock Neighborhood Association at the turn of the 20th Century, residents worked together to improve the roads and to establish a fire department. They went on to build the Matinecock Neighborhood House (that later became the Library) and the Locust Valley Fire House. After WWII, their sense of service moved community members to form Operation Democracy to send much needed relief to a “sister city” in France and, closer to home, to found the American Legion Howard Van Wagner Post 962 for veterans, and to build the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club for our children.

Throughout its history, the Club has maintained this local tradition of coming together and has worked collaboratively with many of our local institutions. We partner with the Locust Valley Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, nearby schools and all our amazing volunteers. To expand the horizons of our young readers, we partner with the Locust Valley Library, where our members enjoy a reading club. When our young participants need to learn to swim, they are welcomed to the Y, our Club’s partner in the Buddy Winslow Swim Program.

In the wake of COVID-19, the Club has become a founding member of NOSH joining St. John’s Church of Lattingtown and other local groups. NOSH is a community-based organization created to provide support for the food insecure in our area. With many people losing their jobs, our community has once again come together to address a need. Concerned citizens have joined forces through NOSH to safely and responsibly deliver food where it is needed, within the parameters and guidelines prescribed by state and local authorities.

Following this example, our Club members in turn are learning to collaborate at a young age, working with other groups to give back to their community. This past month our Keystone Club helped with NOSH as well as joining our Torch Club and grade school kids to send special hand-made thank you cards to our frontline responders. In the past our service clubs have worked with the North Shore Land Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors, the Salvation Army and others.

Locust Valley is a wonderful place to grow up and to call home. In all my years living here, I have been so impressed.  Not only is our town beautiful to look at, but at its heart, it has a strong foundation of community spirit. Our children benefit from this foundation and from the outpouring of love and support the community shows in times of need.








Summer Vacation Is Here!



Summer Vacation Is Here! –  June 29, 2016

Summer vacation is here! Soon our children will be busy riding bicycles, taking trips to the beach or swimming in a neighbor’s pool. While summer provides a much needed break from the hectic school year for parents and children, it is still important that children reinforce what they learned in school during the summer.

Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is committed to ensuring that the youth of our community excel academically, especially those who need us most. Each summer, our youth lose valuable reading and math skills. Summer learning losses can stack up from year to year, causing children to fall further and further behind, ultimately endangering their chances to succeed in high school. We want to make sure that our kids graduate on time with a plan for the future. That’s why we introduced the Summer Brain Gain program to our campers. This program, developed specifically by BGCA to combat “summer brain drain,” integrates learning into our daily schedule of summer camp activities.

Summer Brain Gain is comprised of one-week modules with fun, themed activities for elementary school, middle school and high school students. Each module takes a project-based learning approach: youth engage in a process of learning through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project or production. As a result, kids develop thinking skills throughout the summer while staying on track for the coming school year.

Today most parents are aware of the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in academics and in future careers. Jobs in STEM fields are growing nearly twice as fast as other fields. Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club has embraced this new challenge and opportunity, by introducing programs that bring STEM into our Summer Brain Gain program. Now another development in education has brought the acronym STEAM to the forefront. STEAM encourages kids to integrate the arts in their study of STEM, keeping learning fun and creative.

Through STEAM this summer, our kids will incorporate drama and visual arts into their summer activities in addition to fun experiments and STEM projects. “Blending different disciplines is a great way to make science and other academic subjects come alive,” said Carlos Pumar, our Education Director. “We don’t have to teach in silos. We want to provide a well-rounded program that blends STEM and the arts, as well as fresh air and exercise.” After all, summer is a great time for kids to feel free to experiment and to be creative without the pressure of coming up with a right or wrong answer.” Reading together, our campers will have the opportunity to act out the story with their peers and use their imagination to express the narrative themes of the book. Who knew learning could be so much fun?!