The Salesian Boys & Girls Club on Byron Street in East Boston received a national award last week from the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Out of 1,000 Boys & Girls Clubs in the Northeast Region that includes 14 states, the Salesian Club was one of two in the region selected for the national award.
The Salesian Boys & Girls Club received the Gateway to Impact Award, which recognizes increase in average daily attendance and capacity utilization during the year. The Salesian Boys & Girls Club was number one in increased average attendance in the Northeast Region.
Salesian Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Fr. John Nazzaro traveled to Princeton, N.J to receive the award on behalf of the club on October 29.
“This is really an honor,” said Fr. Nazzaro. “We really are a small club compared to some of these other clubs in the region that have huge facilities but we were able to double our enrollment over the year to 320 kids in attendance daily.”
Nazzaro called the award ‘big news’ for the Byron Street club that has put Eastie on the map.
“This award belongs to the hard working staff and young people who see the Salesian spirit of Reason, Religion, kindness and active presence every day,” he said.
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.”
Nicole McCormack, program Director said, “This is a great award which validates the wonderful work the Salesian Boys & Girls Club is doing for the youth in the area”.
The Salesian Boys & Girls Club accommodates over 320 young people a day and has over 1,000 youngsters on their active membership. The registration fee for one child is a minimal $20.00 a year.
Each year the Salesian Boys & Girls Club runs a summer camp and this year over 200 young people will take advantage of this fantastic program. Each year the Boys & Girls Club runs an annual breakfast and other fundraising activities to raises money for kids who otherwise would not be able to participate in a safe fun filled summer.
“We do a lot with the money we get and we have over 40 families that receive scholarships for our program each summer,” said Nazzaro.
Nazzaro, who grew up in Eastie and knows the neighborhood, has been running the Salesian Boys and Girls Club inside the former Savio Hall with tremendous success.
After Savio closed, the Boys and Girls Club officially moved its headquarters from the big brick building on Paris Street up to Orient Heights.
“We were lucky we got 60 to 80 kids a day at Paris Street,” said Nazzaro. “Now we’re getting over 300 children.”
The 320 children who show up daily do so primarily for the Boys and Girls Club’s after school program that costs local families a very modest $20 for the entire year.
“The program serves children ages 6 to 19 from 2:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday,” explained Nazzaro. “We offer computers, after school help, homework help, sports, art and crafts and provide snacks every day at 5:15 p.m.”