Boys and Girls Club wants to become bigger, better

ST. MARYS – Establishing a safe place for youth with a variety of enriching activities has always been an important part of community culture. The St. Marys Boys and Girls Club has served in this capacity for many years and is hoping to offer even more positive experiences for the area’s young people. St. Marys Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Tiffany Boschert is new to the position, but she has already been working in a hurry to reassert that in today’s busy world where young people are involved in tons of organized activities, from sports to music, the club still plays a vital role in giving children a safe and fun space to engage with others. Boschert began her new position in the second week of July. Boys and Girls Club Board President Clark Pearson works in the county’s juvenile probation office and has served on the board for almost 20 years. He said the value of the organization should not be overlooked. “It gives youth something to do in St. Marys. It gives them a good, firm footing to start out their lives on,” Pearson said. “It gives them a lot of positive role models.”Pearson said most Boys and Girls Clubs are found in more urban areas and explained how the one in St. Marys was established in 1923. According to Pearson, the chief founder was area resident William E. Hall. “Mr. Hall was on the national board of the club. He thought there should be a Boys and Girls Club in his home area. He was from Ridgway-- they already had a YMCA, so he decided St. Marys should have a Boys and Girls Club, so that’s why we were one of the small towns that had one. Now they’re starting to branch out into small communities,” Pearson said. “We were one of the first boys and girls clubs in the country. It was a pilot program before pilot programs were in,” Pearson said. Although the Boys and Girls Club is intended primarily for youth, several programs for adults are also offered. There is a popular volleyball league and Boschert explained how some adults come in on a regular basis during their lunch hour to play basketball. “Our programs for gymnastics-- you can join-- Wilcox, Emporium, all different areas as long as you’re a St. Marys Area School District student,” Boschert said. The club recently launched a Facebook page and will hold an open house during the upcoming Bavarian Fall Fest on Friday, Sept. 21 from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 22 from noon to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We’re funded through United Way and we also take private donations,” Boschert said.