Youngstown Rotary Gives $50K to Boys & Girls Clubs

By Marah Morrison
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Rotary Club of Youngstown and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Youngstown have a partnership going back decades, to 1969 when the civic organization helped found the local chapter of the mentorship program.

And on Wednesday, that connection was expanded as the civic organization announced a $50,000 endowment to support memberships for the next 50 years.

“What we really want to do is be able to provide impact,” said Rotary President Dave Stillwagon. “That impact comes through the individuals this club serves on a daily basis.” 

Stillwagon was among the officials from both organizations at the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Oak Hill Avenue center to celebrate the donation. The endowment will support memberships up to $1,000 per year for the next five decades.

“We believe that this access will continue to build on the foundation that the club is able to offer so that the boys and girls who come through here are able to be those citizens that we’re going to look up to in the generations to come,” Stillwagon said.

Representatives from Rotary Club of Youngstown and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Youngstown celebrated Rotary’s $50,000 gift, which will support memberships at the mentorship program.

As they work through their lives, the resources they’ve gained through the Boys & Girls Clubs and the relationships they’ve built from there is something they can take with them, he said.

Outside of the endowment to the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Rotary Club donated more than $30,000 in separate grants, Stillwagon said. A $20,000 operational grant was donated to the YWCA, as well as project and program grants between $1,500 to $3,000, he said. 

Last year, the Boys & Girls Clubs worked with more than 1,000 children through after school programs, summer programs, partnerships, mentoring programs and athletics, said Germaine McAlpine, executive director of the local chapter. Programming is divided into three pillars: academic success, citizenship and healthy lifestyle.

“When we are approaching developing our youth every day, it falls under one of those three pillars,” McAlpine said. “We want all of our kids to be exposed to the possibilities of what they can become.” 

Membership fees are $7 per school year and $50 for 10 weeks of summer programming. The Rotary Club’s donation will help offset program costs at the Boys and Girls Clubs, McAlpine said, so families aren’t priced out.

Among the programs offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs is the Grace to Greatness program, where staff offers incentives high grades, McAlpine said. One of the incentives was going to a Youngstown State University men’s basketball game. Last week, 42 members of Boys & Girls Clubs formed the tunnel the Penguins came out of for their pregame warm-ups.

“Some kids had never been to a game before,” McAlpine said. “It was a fun night for them, so that was their incentive. We try and incentivise as much as possible for their successes. We want to celebrate them doing well.” 

Even though the Boys & Girls Clubs of Youngstown serves more than 1,000 children from ages 6 to 18 each year at its four sites across the city of Youngstown, McAlpine wants to reach more kids in 2020, he said. The Boys & Girls Clubs staff are passionate about exposing children to different career options, so children could be engaging in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics on the projects they’re working on, he said. 

“We’re teaching life,” McAlpine said. “We want them to be able to get their academics, and then come here and get academics and a portion of how to tie a tie, how to stay fit, learn how to cook. They’re learning everything here after they leave school.” 

In the past two years, a member has gone to culinary school, while others have attended Eastern Gateway Community College or YSU, McAlpine said. Whether members want to get into the trades or attend college, the Boys & Girls Club staff wants them to graduate with a plan to be successful, he said.

“This investment allows us to continue this process over the next 50 years of growing the mission of serving the youth in the Mahoning Valley,” McAlpine said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.