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 #21 Catherine S.
When I think back to some of the most integral parts of my teens, summers at the Murray Boys & Girls Club is the first thing that comes to my mind. This is when I started to develop a passion for service and learn the importance of community by volunteering in the child care.
One summer I participated in a course that taught us, teens, how to interview, create a resume, and build self-confidence. I still think back and value the importance implanting those seeds early in my mind. The course also taught me to believe in my leadership skills and allowed me to even teach a fitness class to kids at the Club as a teenager.
I can remember wanting so badly to be a part of the kids who had that sense of community. My time spent at the Club made a remarkable impact on my current life. I can only thank the great staff for allowing me to be a part of the wonderful community and family that the Club provided me when I didn't have a sense of family unit at home. The Club was a place I knew I would be safe. I knew I was with people who cared about me and my future.
Honestly, I think the Club gave me so many skills that I still currently use, every day. It taught me from a young age the importance of a community, volunteering, being prepared, and believing in yourself.
I'm currently practicing as a Physician Assistant and an Adjunct faculty teaching small groups for the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program. I truly believe my passion for teaching and volunteering started at the Club and I'm so thankful for the time I was able to spend there.
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 #20 Emily C.
To say that the Boys & Girls Club has saved my life doesn’t even begin to describe the impact it has made. I started going to the Murray Club when I was 12 years old, simply because I had nowhere else to go. My family consisted of a mother who lost custody for me when I was 8 and a father who I was with until I was the age of 16. Within those four year, I had the opportunity to create many relationships, but one, in particular, shaped me into the person I’ve become. They say within every Boys & Girls Club kid there’s a mentor behind their success. Mine? Her name is Terra Bueno. She listened, and at the time, that’s all I needed. When I ultimately got kicked out of my house she found a place for me. Along with her being my biggest inspiration, she became my biggest fan. In 2015 Terra encouraged to compete to become Youth of the Year for my local Boys & Girls Club. After submitting two essays, letters of recommendation, a speech and a panel interview I was fortunate enough to win. Moving on to state and then regionals, I was chosen to be Youth of the Year for the Pacific Region along with being grated over $65,000 dollars in scholarships. I am now attending Salt Lake Community College and will move on to the University of Utah to receive my Bachelors in Communications and Public Relations. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be able to attend college, but I didn’t get here alone. Terra always said, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Thank you, Boys & Girls Club of Murray for being my village.
Story #19 Silas C.
I joined Boys & Girls Club at 8 years old. I remember going into Club and having staff readily available to help me complete my homework. After getting through the packets of homework I would get as a student, the club offered a wide variety of activities that I could choose from. This was exciting because it was a break from school and the day to day some old stuff at school. I really appreciated having the choice to choose my own activity while being supervised by an engaged and caring staff.
At Club I also had the opportunity to make a lot of friends in a safe and welcoming environment. As I look back I'm very grateful for having the Boys & Girls club for providing such an environment, and also having the space to learn and develop myself not only as a student but as a human being.
Story #18 Wayne S.
My first recollection of the Boys & Girls club was when I was a young teenager. My friends and I used to gather at the school gym several days a week after school and play hoops. At that time, Bob Dunn, the Club Director asked us if we would help the Club by coaching a young boys’ team. That was an amazing experience and probably my first lesson in having the responsibility for someone else's welfare.
I maintained a very good and strong relationship with Bob and volunteered at the Club frequently. When I was about 30 years old, he asked me if I would sit on the Board of Directors. That was also a great experience; there I started to learn about the business and financial part of life through those years.
I was blessed to have two wonderful children, Lauren and Nick. Their mom and I were busy trying to make ends meet, we were young parents and the kids would attend the Club after elementary school. I was very grateful that they were staying with someone I trusted.
I am currently the Chief Executive Officer/Leader of a great company named SME Steel Industries. We do structural steel fabrication and erection for some of the most Iconic structures in the country. A couple of examples are the Levi's Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers), Bellagio Hotel and Casino and we're currently building the new football stadium for the LA Rams. I have met the love of my life, my wife is JaeLynn Searle, and we have created a wonderful modern family, adopting a wonderful baby boy from birth 2 years ago named Journey Jackson Searle (we call him JJ), and along with our three great children, Lauren, Ariel, and Nick.
I have many wonderful and great memories of the Club and I know that it was one of the positive influences in my life and career.
Story #17 Class of 2017
Congratulations Class of 2017!!! Did you know that over one-third of our recent grads are the first in their family to graduate, and over half have plans for college? We are incredibly proud of the thirty-five high school graduates who have been awesome Club members. If you could go back in time to your graduation, what advice would you give yourself? We want to hear from you! Join the conversation on Facebook by clicking on the picture or find us at facebook.com/bgcsaltlake. Check back in each week as we begin to highlight our most recent graduates and current Club staff members who are also Club Alumni.
Story #16 Leila M.
I started attending the Boys & Girls Club when I was 5, because both my parents worked full-time jobs. I was the first of 3 kids, so I never had an older sibling to look up to or to watch out for me. The Club provided a safe place that I could count on, especially at a time in life where we are easily influenced. The Club kept me engaged in my studies, encouraged self-awareness, and motivation to achieve the things you set your mind to. I have no doubt the Club helped to shape the person that I am today -- especially the values I hold dear. The things I learned while attending the club are not all things that can be taught in a classroom. Although it emphasized the importance of knowledge, the Club also taught me how rewarding it can be to help other people, the danger of stereotyping, and the importance of equality
Story #15 Teena L.
I became a member of the Sugar House Boys & Girls Club when I was eight. My mother was a single parent, raising three children, and working full-time. We had no one to watch my brother and me after school and had just moved to Salt Lake City.
The Club really was “the positive place” for me and my brother. On my first day, we went on a field trip to this awesome playground. I met my first best friend at the Club, and we are still friends to this day. There are countless firsts that occurred during my time at the Club; I’ll never forget the moment my love for basketball began; picking up a basketball, dribbling it clumsily across the gym, shooting the ball and making it – nothing but net. I was in love, and that summer I played basketball with the boys and I‘ve not stopped since.
Through countless interactions with staff members, the life skills groups, the field trips, and volunteering; I felt that I could always walk into the Club and feel a sense of belonging. They saw potential in me. I was nominated for Youth of the Year in 2000. A single, young mother, graduating from high school is not unheard of, but it wasn’t the norm. This nomination provided opportunities for me for scholarships and a platform to share my story. Today, I am a mother of three, I run my own business, and I stay in contact with many of the impactful people I met at the Club.
Story #14 Joe C.
I attended the Boys & Girls Club of Murray and I there met a few people who made the differences I needed to get me going in life after losing my parents. My mom had attended to the Club back when it was called the Boys Club. I looked to the Club staff for the inspiration to grow up and they taught me everything from learning new sports to learning valuable life lessons. I had a hard time in Junior High and High School due to the circumstances I had with losing my parents. Going to the Club helped.
Now, I'm a manager at a Smart Home Security Company. I have a wonderful wife and a baby boy who is one year old. If it wasn't for the Boys & Girls Club I don't know where I would be today. Thank you all for the hard work you do to make that place a second home for kids like me and many others. Thank you for the hours of time spent counseling me to be better.
Story #13 Jackie Joyner-Kersee
We were honored to have Boys & Girls Clubs Alumna, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, join us this year at our Great Futures Gala. She is an amazing athlete and an inspiring woman. Here what Jackie had to say in this recording from last week’s gala.
Born in 1962, in East St. Louis, Illinois, Jackie Joyner-Kersee came from very humble beginnings. To this day, she is still humble and loves to give back to the community despite having been dubbed ‘The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century’ by Sports Illustrated.
Jackie’s athletic accomplishments are world renowned and are literally second to none. By the conclusion of her career in the heptathlon and long jump events she had amassed 6 Olympic medals and 4 World Champion titles. Jackie was the first woman in history to earn more than 7,000 points in the heptathlon, and today, over 20 years later, she still holds the world heptathlon record of 7,291 points. She continues to hold the Olympic and national records in the long jump, and her 1994 performance in the long jump remains the second longest in history. In addition to heptathlon and long jump, Jackie was a world class 100m and 200m runner and, after a decorated All-American career in basketball at UCLA, she eventually played professional basketball for a short time.
Less well known, however, are Jackie’s tireless efforts and remarkable accomplishments off the field as a philanthropist and an advocate for children’s education, health issues (in particular asthma from which she has suffered throughout her life), racial equality, social reform and women’s rights. Never one to be classified as merely an athlete, Jackie says, "I strive to be a Jackie of all trades.”
Jackie Joyner-Kersee has received many prestigious awards, including the St. Louis Ambassadors Sportswoman of the Year, Sporting News Athlete of the Year Award (the first woman to receive either of these awards), the Sullivan Award, and consecutively winning the Jesse Owens Memorial Award.
Story #12 Chris S.
Chris started attending the Boys & 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.
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.
Help us open doors to Great Futures for the next 50 years and make a donation today!