Boys & Girls Club spotlights organization’s achievements

By Kerry Miller
Sentinel & Enterprise
November 6, 2009

The Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts has had a lot to be thankful for in 2009, including one year in its new location, an increase in science programs and a chance to honor a few of the many local kids who make the club possible.

The club held its “Back-A-Kid Celebration of Achievements” annual gathering last night at its joint Fitchburg and Leominster clubhouse, at 365 Lindell Ave. in Leominster.

“I’m grateful for all of you being here. It’s been an exceptional year. The economy we’ve been in it’s made the services we provide more important than they’ve ever been in this type of a club,” said Ladd Lavallee, chair of the board for the club.

Lavallee said while he was grateful the Leominster VFW and Fitchburg State College allowed the club to use its facilities for some time, he and the other board members were thrilled about moving into the new space in September 2008.

“The move into this facility has been an enormous leap forward. We had two good clubs in Leominster and Fitchburg (which are now combined,” he said.

Along with the new building has also come an increase in programs. Executive Director Donata Martin said the club now offers its members nature walks every Friday, environmental education and astronomy and astrophysics programs and the “Kids Capture the Universe” program in conjunction with Harvard and MIT. Club members have also learned about growing vegetables in a new garden at the clubhouse. Martin, who is just six months into her role as executive director, said there’s been growth in other areas as well.

“It’s just been very exciting. I’ve been involved with the club at least four years, I’ve seen the club really grow. In that time we received our charter with the national Boys & Girls Club of America and opened a small clubhouse in Lunenburg,” she said.

In January 2010, Martin added, the club is starting a science club for girls, a softball team in the spring and will add a robotics team to its list of programs.

“Our members are learning a lot here,” she said. “During the week there’s kids all over the place and they’re having a great time.”

Martin and Lavallee handed out awards for science, club service, Homework Hero and Youth of the Year. Elizabeth Sergey received the science award, Vesna Kea received the Club Service Award, the Homework Hero was Alex Ramos and Youth of the Year went to Valerie Francois, 17, a senior at St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg.

For more information about the Club call 978-534-8358.