Last year was a year to celebrate for many reasons.
We served 1,404 members in our College Bound program last year and 96% of our seniors graduated on time with 93% of them going on to college last fall. We saw our Comprehensive Arts Program continue to grow, so we developed our Saturday Arts Academy to take kids off the waiting lists and provide intermediate to advanced learning opportunities in fine arts, music, dance, recording arts and animation. We completed a much needed $1.1 million renovation of our San Pedro Club facility which included building out separate centers for our elementary, middle school and high school members – a strategy that is revolutionary in our movement and allowed us to triple our daily middle school attendance. Last but not least, we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of serving the most at-risk children of our Los Angeles Harbor communities.
Seventy-five years of serving all youth, but especially those who need us most, is something to note, but the real story is this organization’s ability to continue to adapt to meet the growing needs of our children and families.
It started in 1937, with local businessmen establishing the San Pedro Boys Club to keep the community’s boys from terrorizing the customers of local merchants. In the ’50s, the Club was moved to the few remaining facilities from the 1932 earthquake condemned San Pedro High School. In 1965 (I was a member), the brand new and beautiful San Pedro Club was built by Nick Trani and his merry band of board members. In the mid-’80s the Club fell upon hard times and sadly had to lease away the ball field so many of us boys grew up on over the decades – but the doors stayed open.
In 1999, as gangs continued to proliferate in the Harbor Area, we built our first of eventually three Teen Centers, which later was recognized as a National Teen Center of Excellence by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2001, we partnered with the Port of Los Angeles to establish the Port Boys & Girls Club to meet the growing needs of the 600 Public Housing units in Rancho San Pedro.
In 2002, we developed and instituted College Bound to address the greater than 50% dropout rate of our members. In 2004, we heard the call for help from our Wilmington neighbors and merged with their organization to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor. By 2008, we completed $3.5 million in renovations and expansion at the Wilmington Club site so we could replicate our successful San Pedro program model. By 2012, we had become the largest Boys & Girls Club organization in the entire Los Angeles County area – while serving over 8,000 youth annually. Also in 2012, one of our alumni, Misty Copeland, was inducted into the National Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame for her accomplishments with the American Ballet Theatre. Misty participated in her first ballet lessons here at our San Pedro Club many years earlier.
For 75 years, we have often saved and positively changed tens of thousands of lives because of the generous support of locals: individuals, businesses, service organizations, foundations and even government entities. Words cannot adequately express my sincere thanks for the generosity of each and every one of you – for without you there would be no College Bound, no Arts Academy, no Teen Center of Excellence, no state-of-the-art recording studio, no Wilmington or Port Club, no 8,000 members, no smiles, no hope. Without you, there would be no reason for celebration.
Thanking you in advance for the next 75 years of smiles, hope and changing & saving lives. spt