“Great Futures Start Here.”
That is the main statement on the home page of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama, and its leaders make sure they live up to that huge promise.
Resource Development and Communications Director Bertram Young knows well what the pledge means.
“I’m actually a club kid,” he said. “I started my club experience at age 7 and grew up here until I was 18. I went off to college and when I came back, I worked here and now I do development and communications. I love this place.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama has been around since 1901. It started as the Birmingham Boys Club, and later added the “& Girls” and grew to include other areas. The organization serves hundreds of children in facilities across the state.
“Every day during the week, we are open from 3 to 6 after school,” Young said. “We have about 650 kids that come through the doors of our organization across our facilities in Alabama. That number goes up to about 1,200 in the summer.”
As soon as the young club members walk through the doors, they enter an environment of stability, consistency and physical and emotional safety. Each day the staff members build deep and powerful relationships with the youths they serve.
“All of our kids come from our local communities. We reach about 200 different school districts,” Young said. “We provide these children with a unique club experience that will in turn enable them to succeed. Every one of these young lives who come here will have a chance to succeed and build good character. We also see them through graduating from high school and prepare them for a successful future.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama helps children learn and attain skills in character and leadership, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation. They will also learn about decision-making, planning, contributing to club and community, and celebrating national heritage. Basically, they learn how to be caring citizens.
Young is a testament to this program.
“It’s hard to explain the feeling I get when I see these kids,” he said. “I grew up here in Birmingham just like them and I know that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama had a direct impact on me. I would not be here today if it weren’t for this place. The positive impact they had on my life is empowering. It means a lot to know these kids are here in a safe place that will push them to be their best.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama certainly has a great past. But it’s the futures that are most important.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].