G. Michael Dobbs – Reminder Publications

CHICOPEE – The Boys and Girls Club had a banner year in 2017 and is starting 2018 with greater financial stability and new programs.

The club’s executive director, Jason Reed described 2017 as a “pretty incredible year” to Reminder Publications. The club saw close to a $1 million in revenue and achieved having a surplus of $130,000.

Reed said the positive situation came from an increase in revenue and developing operating efficiencies.

“We have been looking for efficiencies while giving the kids what they want,” Reed said.

The better financial picture allowed Reed to add three new positions. He was able to bring back  a person to run the athletic program, which had been eliminated three years ago because of budget problems.

He also created a training coordinator job to help meet changing demands of the club’s members. Reed said the needs of today’s children change quickly and a training coordinator will help the staff stay on top of shifting priorities.

There is now a STEM (Science, Technology, Math) coordinator to develop and run science and math programs for the children. Reed said the club’s STEM program will help keep them ahead of the curve and will be available five days a week. The program will utilize the club’s 3-D printer.

Speaking of STEM programs, Reed said, “The kids take to them and learn it as they would throw a basket into a hoop.

Adding STEM in at the club is an effort to “try our best to set a foundation for them.” The club already offers art and athletics and Reed said the goal is to encourage “as well-rounded young people as we can.”

The club serves 175 children a day with a current membership of about 250 to 260 youth from ages 6 through 18.

“We have plenty of room to grow,” Reed said. He added the real obstacle to serving more children is transportation.

Reed explained the goal is not to be an extension of school but the programs can help develop skills that can help children academically.

He is looking into a program run by other clubs that bring in representatives from area businesses to assist the members in learning about career choices.

Founded in March 1912, Reed said the club has changed considerably and the perception it is a “baby-sitting service” is inaccurate.

One of his goals for 2018 will be working to identify and contact alumni of the club. He believes getting alums involved in the club today will help the members and assist in possible future fundraising. While Reed said the traditional fundraising events such as the club’s golf tournament and gala will continue eh acknowledged there is greater competition for state and federal grants.