An Early History of the Boys & Girls Club

The history of Boys’ and Girls’ Club dates back to 1860 when sisters Alice and Mary Goodwin, together with Elizabeth Hammersley, organized the first Club in Hartford, Connecticut. The club was called “The Dashaway Club”. Most sources list only the three mentioned women as the founders of the first Boys’ Club, but there are also sources that include Louisa Bushnell as one of the founders. With their belief that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative and a healthy place to live and grow, they started by inviting the roaming boys into their homes offering them refreshments and recreation. More and more boys learned about this and soon they had a growing number of children attending the Club. Because of this, they had to rent a bigger hall where they offered dramatics, music and books. In 1880, another public-spirited woman from Hartford, Mary Stuart Hall, re-organized the “Dashaway Club” as “Good Will Boys Club”. Hall, the first female lawyer in the state of Connecticut, wanted to prove that even tough street kids, when given proper guidance and opportunity, could get along in the society and abide by the rules. Since then, different clubs proliferated in the United States.

In 1906, the Federated Boys’ Club was formed in Boston when 53 organizations decided to combine together. The formation of Boys’ Club Federation of America marked the start of the nationwide Movement.

The Boys’ Club Federation of America was renamed as Boys’ Clubs of America in 1931. With 1275 members, the Club now has a gymnasium, vocational training areas, swimming pool, reading room and campsites. They had faced a lot of challenges and difficulties but despite those that they had faced, they continued to have a growing number of members. They were even mobilized during the World War I as “messengers, guides or helpers”. They were encouraged to be of service to their country. They were able to live by their motto which is “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens”.

On September 12, 1990, girls were officially recognized as members of the club; hence, they renamed it to Boys and Girls Club of America. Though it was originally an exclusive for boys club, girls became evident active members. Some even played important roles even in the early years of recognizing the girls in the organization. Today, the Boys and Girls Club of America leads over 4000 local clubs located in the 50 states all over the country, in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and on US Military bases around the world. They have programs in the areas of education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, alcohol/ drug and pregnancy prevention, gang prevention, leadership development and athletics.

One of these local clubs is the Boys and Girls Club of Moorpark which is located at 4263 Tierra Rejada Moorpark, California. Since 1985 they have been serving their community through offering programs and services that provide a safe and positive environment to the youth. Since they are an affiliate of the Boys and Girls Club of America, they base all their ideals and programs on the framework and concepts of the mother organization. Since its conception in 1860, character development has been the foundation of the club experience.