Forty years after its founding, the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club isn’t just a local fixture; it’s an agency that continues to expand and innovate to meet the growing needs of Lawrence youngsters.
In 1972, some people in Lawrence saw a need and, as so often happens in this community, set about to fill that need. The racial violence that erupted in Lawrence in 1970 prompted some local residents to take a look at a club that would give boys a safe place to go where they could participate in a variety of activities after school. Initially the club was just for boys, but the organizers successfully made the transition to including girls a few years later.
In recent years, the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club has become the city’s primary provider of after-school programs in the city. In addition to running a teen center at its main location at 1520 Haskell Ave., the club operates after-school programs at 10 local elementary schools and the former East Heights School.
It was a big decision to seek the federal grants to establish those programs, and the club’s board should be commended for having the courage to step in and try to fill a significant community need. The after-school programs have an educational component, but perhaps their most important benefit is that they provide a safe, supervised environment that working parents can trust to care for their children.
Over the years, many staff members and volunteers have provided the vision, leadership and energy needed to make the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club a success, and their efforts have made a difference in the lives of thousands of local youngsters. Congratulations to those who saw the need for such an organization and to all those who have helped it prosper for the last 40 years.