By Owen Charters
I recently attended the 50th anniversary celebrations of Boys & Girls Club of Brantford and had a chance to honour the Rotary members, the Brantford Police Service, and other community volunteers who created the Club and continue to support its vital work.
Fifty years is relatively young in the lives of Clubs—we have many Clubs that are older, and a few that are younger. But no matter the age of a Club, these community supports are essential. Attending the anniversary celebrations of Clubs is a great way to connect and see their impact. Not just their day-to-day impact, but the impact they have made over successive generations. While fundraising is always critical, the human capacity needed to create and run a successful Club is phenomenal. The stories from Club after Club are those of dedicated volunteers—individuals that give weeks, months, and years of their lives to bring community partners together, find space for a Club, fundraise, paint, fix, repair, and everything in-between.
It takes a village to raise a child. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer villages out there—even in big cities (and perhaps especially in big cities) families are increasingly isolated, the demands on their time and precious dollars many. So many people are increasingly focused on themselves, less willing to lend a hand, less able to offer support to someone else struggling to parent their child. There is little margin.
That is, until you walk in the doors of a Club. There, the village remains—welcoming and ready to raise the children of the community when families and other institutions cannot. Inside our Clubs, truly amazing staff tackle the effects of boredom and loneliness, bullying, poverty, hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, and more. And most importantly, they go out of their way to emphasize the positive for young people—the capacity to express oneself, to be motivated, to develop leadership potential, to achieve success. To be a kid, to dream, and to grow.
And when I say it takes a village, I also mean the incredible supporters that are absolutely crucial to our Clubs in 700 communities across the country. From caring corporations to donors to volunteers to our social media followers—each and every one of you in your own way help our Clubs help kids and teens and their families. We are grateful.
At this time of year, as we celebrate family, as we celebrate community and giving, thank you for being the village that’s needed in each child’s life.
To you and yours, please enjoy a warm, safe holiday season.