50 Stories for 50 Years
2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of our organization! We intend to celebrate all year long. Join us every Thursday of 2017 as we feature inspiring stories from club alumni, community partners, and volunteers. Feel free to join the conversation on our social media pages and tell us your story using #GSL50.
Officially, on January 26, 1967 the first Board of Directors Meeting was held in Murray to organize Utah’s first Boys & Girls Club. Later that same year, volunteers met in Sugar House to organize the first Boys & Girls Club in Salt Lake City. Today, fifty years later, we have evolved into one of the largest youth service organization in the state.
Story #12 Chris S.
Chris started attending the Boys and Girls Club of Murray in 1990. He participated in the Walk-In program, which included his favorite activities such as basketball leagues, service projects, and games-n-grub. These activities developed Chris’ coordination, confidence, and improved his social skills. Quickly, Chris realized he had a family away from home in the staff and peers that influenced him for good. He was active in the Keystone chapter and learned valuable leadership lessons.
Chris became a Teen staff and started teaching others. He helped with the after school programs at several club sites and loved teaching the fundamentals of sports. He embraced the opportunities the Club allowed such as Gala dinners, white water rafting, fishing with the City Council, traveling to California, Chicago, and Philadelphia for leadership conferences. In 1998, Chris’ nominated as the State Youth of the Year and received a scholarship from Oprah Winfrey Angel Network for higher education. In 2014, Chris received a Bachelor Degree in Communications. He works for Brigham Young University – Idaho and is also a small business owner. When Chris is not in the office, you can find him spending time with his wife and children, serving ecclesiastically, coaching youth sports, enjoying sports and the outdoors.
If you or some one you know attended a Boys & Girls Club here in Utah or anywhere in the nation, we want to connect with you! Click here to join our Alumni association, because you are never too old to be a club kid.
Story #11 Alisha W.
Alisha W. was the first person in her in her family to graduate from an American High School. Alisha started attending the Sugarhouse Club in 2008 and calls it the Best Club Ever! “The Club taught me patience and leadership skills that I could use in life. I also learned to be responsible for others and myself”, says Alisha. She credits the Club for teaching her that being who I am is what is most important and I need to take care of myself first. Finding myself and working on myself was a big thing while I was there because I am the oldest child in my family and tend to take on a lot of that responsibility. The Boys & Girls Club helped me be more confident in decision-making, more aware of what is out there, and how I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
Alisha is currently a college student at SLCC obtaining her Associates Degree and works at Salt Lake City International Airport for Delta Global Services Security.
Story #10 Anthony V.
Antonio Valdez will graduate in May from USU with degrees in Business Administration, Marketing, and Accounting. This spring semester he is on a SEED internship in the Philippines and accepted a full-time offer from Goldman Sachs and is beyond grateful and ecstatic for this opportunity.
Antonio says, “My time at the Boys & Girls Club of Midvale had and continues to play a crucial role in my perception of myself, my peers, and overall worldview. I cannot pinpoint my overall development to one single event or activity at the Club, but rather the culmination of all the activities that influenced me.”
“I was lucky to have had many interactions with the amazing Club staff. From these great people, I learned qualities such as self-will, respect, accountability, to always believe in yourself. I cultivated the drive to accomplish anything I want.”
“I’d recommend the Club to any child because it offers many known and benevolently-unknown gifts and benefits. As every member participates and engrosses themselves into the Club, it gives each member a unique life lesson that will continuously play a role in their life. Plus, they give free food, and dodge ball -- possibly the greatest game on earth.”
Story #9 Jesse O.
Being at the club does not just feel like you are a member but it feels like you are a part of a family that will always be there for you. Also, sometimes we have club meetings a couple of times a month. When we do have them we always talk about some events and situations that would come up and we all discuss our opinions and concerns that we have about the events and situations. Sometimes there are some new people that come to the Boys & Girls Club and everyone always makes everyone feel welcomed. The staff is always concerned for us which is a good thing because it helps everybody be safe and still have fun. The staff always wants us to do good in school and helps us with homework and helps us get to our classes to achieve our goals in life. The staff is always there for us when we need help on things that we need, they never hesitate to do so. I know that the staff cares for us because they always ask how we are doing, if there is anything that it troubling us or to just help us out on something we need. They are amazing people and friends to have.
Story #8 LeAnn Saldivar
As we share 50 Club stories in celebration of our 50th Anniversary we would be remiss if we didn't share this one...LeAnn Saldivar, our President and CEO. LeAnn started working at our Sugar House Club 28 years ago and worked her way through the programs and operations of the Club to eventually be Director of Operations. Coming from those early days of wearing multiple hats, answering phones, driving vans, and running afterschool programs, LeAnn understands the unique needs of our day to day Club operations because she has literally done it all. In 2005, LeAnn became President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. Under her careful guidance and leadership, she helped steer the merger of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley in 2015 - resulting in our Clubs becoming one of the largest youth-serving organizations in the state. LeAnn's vision for our Clubs is to create quality Club experiences for our youth, to make sure that a Club is in reach of every child who needs one, and that our staff remains at the forefront of youth development experts. While her eye may be on the future, her heart is with the one...the one child who walks through our Clubhouse doors today at 3:00 and walks out better prepared to take on tomorrow. We are honored to announce that LeAnn Saldivar was recognized by Utah Magazine as the 2017 CEO of the Year. We've known LeAnn is great for a long time...the secret is just getting out.
Story # 7 Erumis
The Boys & Girls Club created a positive environment where I could serve my community, develop leadership skills, have a network of friends and establish life goals, all while having fun. I had the honor of being selected Youth of the Year for 2002.
I am currently working in the Foreign Service, as an Executive Officer, for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I am now living in Washington D.C., awaiting my first overseas assignment. I received my Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Bachelor of Science in Business-Marketing, from the University of Utah. I also completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Utah. Overall, my family is doing well, including my younger brother, who is also a Club alumnus.
Story #6 Abdi E.
This is Abdi Eftin. He started attending the Capitol West Club when he was in middle school. When he was a senior at West High School he was named the Capitol West Club Youth of the Year. Abdi is now a Junior at Southern Utah University. He is a residential adviser and recently gave a presentation on diversity in front of several hundred people at a national conference for RA's. He works closely with international students to help them adjust to life in a new country. He is studying Political Science and plans to go to law school after he graduates. He is very involved with student government at SUU and just won the election for Student Senator. This summer Abdi will work as a congressional intern in Washington DC!
He said that it would not have been possible for him to be where he's at in life right now if it hadn't been for the help and support he received when he was a kid at the Club. Abdi is one of the most amazing and inspiring youth we have ever worked with. Keep an eye on him because he is sure to be one of the upcoming leaders and change-makers in our community!
Story #5 Brady B.
I began my experience at the Murray Club in 1992 when I was 5 years old - receiving child care service. I was a member for 10 years before moving the Chattanooga, TN in 2002. My single mother frequently volunteered at the Club. She believes the Boys & Girls Club provides support to both of us. Their positive environment and caring treatment contributed to my successful transition to adulthood. She believes in the mission and purpose of the Club in their work to provide a stable foundation for under-advantaged children and youth. I graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Athletic Training. While at the U, I worked exclusively with the Utes Football team my senior year and was given a six-week internship with the Seattle Seahawks. I received a scholarship and a Graduate Assistant position with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville Volunteers football team. I graduated with an MS in Kinesiology/Sports Psychology. Following graduation, I interned with the Cleveland Browns for one season. Currently, I am an Assistant Athletic Trainer with the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. I work full-time with the wrestling team and part-time with the football team.
Story #4 Berenice Y.
I went to the Midvale Boys & Girls Club from the 3rd grade until I graduated high school in 2013. (Berenice was our Club’s Youth of the Year in 2012.)
Right now I am doing an architecture internship in Barcelona, Spain. Normally I am in Boston, I go to Northeastern University; it´s a nice place. Do your homework well and you can leave Utah!
At the Club I had a lot of friends but my favorite people were always the staff. I needed role models and they were that for me. They listened to me, they talked to me, they told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. They gave me confidence and established the skills I would need to be a successful person.
I have met a lot of people in college who didn't have a place like the Club to go to. Their childhood sounds sad because they didn't grow up doing the Club things I did. My confidence in my body from playing so many sports and adaptability in social situations comes from my time at the Club; it is a place that teaches important life skills in a safe environment. And it's fun!
Story #3 Rylie G. 2017 Utah State Youth of the Year
Rylie is a senior at Tooele High School and has been a member of the Tooele Boys & Girls Club for 12 years. Yesterday, she was named the 2017 Utah State Youth of the Year. Raised primarily by her grandparents after substance abuse and domestic violence affected her parents, Rylie found safety and support at her Club. She recounts life changing advice that she received from a club staff member, saying “I could be an anomaly and that I could have such a different life than the one I was dealt. I strive to be an anomaly and play my hand to the best of my ability.” Make sure to watch Rylie tell her story in her own words as she delivers a powerful speech at the Utah State Youth of the Year Competition.
Story #2- Sugar House Kiwanis Club
In 1968, the Sugar House Kiwanis Club was approached by Boys Clubs of America and invited to open a Club in the Salt Lake City area. In less than a year, a house was purchased, a director was hired, a Board of Directors was formed-and Boys Club of the Sugar House Area, Inc. was born.
This humble Club saw many changes and expansions along the way, including the giant step of including girls in 1975. What began in a small, converted home in Sugar House-serving 104 boys has grown to an organization with six permanent Club sites spanning the entire Salt Lake valley. With the continued support of the Sugar House Kiwanis Club we are able to serve over 7,200 girls and boys in the communities of Greater Salt Lake.
This is an exciting time in our history as we celebrate our 50th year of serving kids and changing lives! We look forward to another 50 years of delivering proven programs that fill the vital needs of some of the most under served and at-risk youth in our communities.
Story #1 Lynn Pett
Lynn Pett has been involved with our Clubs since that very first Board Meeting where he was appointed Executive Director (unpaid). Lynn went from there to becoming Director of the Murray Parks & Recreation Department, and then was elected to two successful terms as Murray City Mayor. He still continues today to be an active Committee Member and Club volunteer.
Throughout the year, we will be highlighting a new person every week who has played a valuable role in the growth and impact of our organization. It is only fitting that we begin our 50th Anniversary expressing our sincere thanks to Lynn for all he has done and continues to do to help our kids to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.
Help us open doors to Great Futures for the next 50 years and make a donation today!