History of the Movement
Three women in Hartford, Connecticut essentially started the Boys & Girls Club movement in 1860 when they invited a group of street boys into their home for tea and cake. The youth responded with grateful appreciation to the women’s gesture, which led to further invitations. The opening of the first Boys & Girls Club resulted from the overall success of these positive social interactions.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is now a premier national and international organization, which provides quality youth development programs and services.
History of Our Club
In response to community concerns about gang activity, the Rutland Youth Services Center opened its doors in September 1996. The center was made possible through funding from a Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities grant for Rutland Public Schools. The center provided drop-in services and organized activities for youth ages 12 through 18. The Rutland Area Mentor Program joined with the Youth Services Center to provide mentoring to serve younger children. The goal of the Youth Services Center was to provide comprehensive services to youth in the Rutland area. An additional grant from the Bowse Health Trust enabled the expansion of services to include outreach to other local community schools. In June 1998, the Center was awarded a grant from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to expand its services, programs, staff and training.
The Boys & Girls Club has grown in the 24 years it has been in existence. In addition to now serving youth ages 5 to 15, with expanded resources, the Club has attracted and retained a qualified youth development staff to help run age specific programs. Our staff has degrees in a diverse number of fields, including Health and Physical Education, Individual and Family Studies, Business and Human Relations, Social Work. The Club has continued to grow since 2003, after opening our doors at a new site in downtown Rutland.
In addition to our home base at 71 Merchants Row, we have five other sites. One, at Rutland Town School, Fair Haven Grade School, Castleton Elementary School, Orwell Village School, and Benson Village School. We serve 200 youth over the six sites, with over 90% of our members on Rutland’s free and reduced lunch program.
We have a history of unique collaborations within the Rutland community. Our highly successful summer camp was started in collaboration with the Rutland Recreation Department, allowing the community to offer the same quality programming at a lower price. This provided opportunities to Rutland youth that didn’t have access to a summer camp experience in the past.