50 Stories for 50 Years
2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of our organization! We intend to celebrate all year long. Join us every week 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 # 27 Jaci M.
I first became a Boys & Girls club member the summer before I started junior high. I was 12 years old. My mom had just gone to prison and I had moved to a new city to live with my grandparents. I was terrified and felt alone in the world. Each day I spent at the Club helped those feelings change. I made friends there and got to know so many people. They were like family to me. I will forever remember how great the staff treated me and how much they did to make each day a good one for me and the other club members. I broke out of my shyness and became a strong confident woman because I was surrounded by people who believed in me and encouraged me to always be the best I can be. I am now working as a Pharmacy Technician and going to school to become a Pharmacist. I love the person I am and where my life is headed now. I know that the experiences I had at the club lead me to this amazing life path. I am so grateful for every single person I met at the Boys & Girls Club.
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 #26 Sim Gill
Imagine, if you will, a refuge from the world for a young kid new to this country, with few friends and afternoons without family, because both parents are working. Imagine, if you will, a place that is welcoming, safe, friendly and empowering; a place where you can still be a kid, play with other kids your age, and try out sports that otherwise you would not get a chance to do. Such a place does exist. It is the Boys & Girls Clubs and was my salvation when I was a young immigrant boy who could barely speak the language and was as far away from my native India. The year was 1971, I was 10 years old, having recently arrived in Salt Lake City.
I can't remember how I got introduced to the Club, but I was glad that I did. It was an inter-city Club where there was a diverse range of kids from all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. It was a place where I joined a basketball league. In 1971 we won the Inner City Championship for our age group. One of my teammates was Reggie Wilson, who I met again in college when we both played football for the University of Utah. Both of us were impacted by our experiences at the Club.
For me, my love of competitive sports found its seed there. I set a course playing sports which taught me about discipline, teamwork, hard work and just simply being a kid. The Boys & Girls Club was my home away from home. It’s where a shy kid came out of his shell, made friends, and learned something about himself. The kids that I met, the backgrounds they represented, the struggles that some were going through, gave me a glimpse into a world that had a lasting impact. The lessons I learned, the good and happy memories I made, and all had an influence on who I ultimately became. Many kids, like me, got a chance at life because the Boys & Girls Club was there willing to take chance on us.
Story #25 Olga D.
My parents came to the US from Mexico as immigrants. They moved to inner city Chicago in hopes of a better life. Once we stepped outside our front door there were gangs, drugs and violence -- and no way to avoid it. But my parents figured out the big building across the street from our apartment was a Boys & Girls Club.
When I talk about my Club experience, I like to say that the Club saved my life. It's nothing short of the truth. The Club allowed me to be a kid and not worry our environment outside the safety of the Club doors. It also saved my brother and me from the gang violence and shootings so prevalent in our neighborhood.
Thanks to my Club experience I avoided trouble and went on to finish high school and be the first person in my family to go to college earn bachelor and master's degree.
Years later, I was able to give back to the organization that gave me so much by serving as the Director of Corporate Relations and helped develop a strategic plan and new partnerships to the Club. I was instrumental in helping a Club kid get a scholarship to the university of her choice. The youth at the Club reminded me of my own resilience and the importance of healthy adult relationships to help kids sort through difficult times.
I'm very grateful for this opportunity to tell my story. All the statistics point to me not being here where I am now. Thank goodness there was a Club for me.
Story #24 The Badertscher Family
It was a pleasure for us to present the decedents of Ray and Esther Badertscher with a plaque on our recent Day of Kids celebration. Part of what was presented to the family members who attended the event was a rubbing taken from a stone that was erected in front of the Sugar House Boys & Girls Club for over 40 years ago. The inscription was dedicated to Ray Badertscher and they called him “Mr. Boys Club” because of all the things he had done for the kids there.
Ray Badertscher was the only individual who served as a Board Member of both the Murray and the Sugar House Clubs, from the very beginning of both Clubs back in 1967. Back then, Ray was in his 70’s and was still a powerhouse of energy and he devoted all that energy to see that our kids were provided with a safe atmosphere and had plenty of recreational and educational programs to keep them busy. He and his wife Esther encouraged and mentored the kids, they visited the Clubs frequently, provided financial support and gave their time often helping with service projects at the Clubs. After Ray passed away, Esther continued to stay actively involved with the Clubs until she passed away in her 90’s.
Ray would be thrilled to know that our Clubs are together today combined into one great organization, a dream he began with our Clubs 50 years ago. He definitely made a big impact on our Clubs and our kids.
Story #23 Andi W.
My journey with the club began when I was 3 years old at the Sugarhouse Club but continued to be the place where I grew and learned valuable lessons well into my high school years. It allowed me to practice being a leader and challenged me in all of the right ways. Club for me was not just a place where I went as a kid; it became the place where I discovered my passion in life.
When I was 17, I took my first job as a summer program aid. The following spring I had the privilege of attending the regional Youth of the Year competition in California. I heard from youth across the pacific region tell their stories and how the Club impacted their lives. It was a pivotal moment for me.
These teens who spoke inspired me to work hard at becoming a Club staff who could impact and serve youth the way that their staff impacted them. Since then I have spent 6 years working with the Club and am currently the Teen Program Director of our Murray location. My hope is that I can inspire my teens the way my Club staff inspired me.
Story #22 Bob Dunn
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake is pleased to announce that long-time leader Bob Dunn will retire as Vice President and assume a new role as Special Projects Consultant. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams declared an official proclamation at the County Council meeting on August 15th, 2017 in honor of Dunn’s 39 years of service to the kids in Salt Lake County. A representative from Boys & Girls Clubs of America presented Dunn with the National Service to Youth Award (the highest award given to a Boys & Girls Club professional) at an open house in his honor, Friday, August 18th at 5:00 PM at the Murray Boys & Girls Club. Utah Senator Gene Davis also recognized Dunn’s service at a special meeting of the Utah Senate held at the State Capitol building today.
In his new role as Special Projects Consultant, Dunn will continue his work with the Executive Leadership and Board of Directors in donor and public relations to support the kids in Salt Lake, Tooele and Carbon counties. “Bob has always brought a lot of heart and passionate enthusiasm to our organization,” said LeAnn Saldivar, President and CEO. “He values the importance of community partnerships and has worked diligently to create and sustain highly productive relationships and partnerships for the benefit of the organization and the kids we serve. He has skills and long-term relationships with other non-profits, community alliances, school districts, and city and county government agencies that are vital to helping our Clubs continue to grow and thrive. We can’t let him retire completely yet!”
Dunn began his career as the Executive Director of what was then the Murray Boys & Girls Club in 1978. Under his leadership, the Murray Club grew to Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley and later merged with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake in 2015 to expand services to now 8 locations and more than 7,500 kids annually in 3 counties. He has been responsible for the concept and development of a number of unique and award winning programs (many of which later became National programs) he oversaw the ongoing educational and prevention programs that shape and make positive changes to the lives for tens of thousands of kids over the years. “Bob has forever changed my life,” says Emily Carvajal, a Club alumna and 2015 Pacific Region Youth of the Year who now works at the Club while she attends college as a first-generation college student. “He's been one of my biggest mentors, greatest friend and most thoughtful supporter. I don't know where I would be or who I would be without him.”
“It’s always been about the one,” says Dunn. “While the number of youth can be counted in the thousands, what means the most to me is the one; the one kid who walks into our Clubhouse doors and then walks out knowing that he has the power, tools and resources to change his life for the better. That’s why I stay. I will always be a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs here in our community. These kids give back to me what I hope to share with them – hope for a better future.”
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.
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.
Help us open doors to Great Futures for the next 50 years and make a donation today!