As the new CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, I live in this community. My husband and I raised our two boys in Connecticut. Our life is here. After immigrating to the U.S., we made Connecticut our adopted home state. Like you, the pandemic is making me think about my sons, my family, my friends, my neighbors, the youth of the Club, and their families. Please allow me to reassure you that even though the Club is closed, our work continues.
My first day as the new CEO of the Club was on March 23rd, the first day of shelter-in-place in Connecticut. That very day, I made distance learning a top priority. I understood that the needs of our young members are enormous. Many have minimal access to technology and have challenging situations at home. This puts them at a significant and unfair disadvantage. I am proud to share that today, we have a robust digital offering that includes homework help, tutoring, virtual college tours, at-home fitness classes, mentorship, and counseling. We have also invested in tools so that we can work with our kids who do not have a laptop or reliable internet access. Many of these tools and programs for virtual engagement will continue even after we start returning to normal operations. Meanwhile, the Yerwood Center continues to serve as a hub for our West Side families, lately seeing up to 300 families a day for food and other critical services.
Furthermore, I am delighted to share that, during this time, we have completed construction at the Gary Wendt Teen Center. It is a dedicated facility like no other in Stamford. The 16,000 square-feet expansion means that, as we slowly re-open, we will be equipped to serve more of our members as they grow to young adults while, of course, exceeding all safety guidelines.
My vision for the Club has many components. However, right now, the two most critical ones are:
1. With over 1,600 members and several thousand non-members served each year, the Club is one of Stamford’s most significant resources for after-school youth programs. The first eighteen years of a child’s life go by very quickly and determine the child’s future. As these years are so critical for our young members’ development, we must double-down on closing the achievement gap that is widening during this health crisis. We must greatly expand efforts to create measurable results for our youth and our community. Our members represent the future of our community.
2. Stamford residents, employees, and stakeholders must be engaged like never before for our Boys and Girls Club to achieve its mission. This means we need you! I need your help. We need and want you to be involved.
Every day I feel privileged, humbled, and grateful to have this opportunity to serve my community, our community, and I remain hopeful that better days are ahead of us. I will not be successful, serving alone. I am asking for your help. Please make a gift. Can you make a one-time or recurring gift today? Do you have an idea for an alternative gift such as an equities gift, bequest, in-kind, or something completely different? Please do not hesitate to reach out, and we can either speak personally, through video, or by any other means.
I have been touched by the outpouring of support that I have received from so many of you. Your generous offers of assistance, large and small, remind me that we are all in this together. On behalf of the Board of The Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, our dedicated staff, and all of our young and hopeful members, thank you. We are here for you, too.
Rowena Track, M.S.
Chief Executive Officer