By Erin Porteous, CEO

I’d like to interrupt your regular holiday programming with something a little different today. With something unexpected and something joyful. While this time of year is definitively (and wonderfully) all about gratitude and giving, what I’ve come to discover at our Clubs is that these themes play themselves out in ways that may surprise you. 

I spend my days as CEO grateful for the opportunity to share stories about our Club kids and the miracle moments they experience in our Clubs: those moments when they build confidence in themselves and see their own bright futures come to life for the first time. I share these stories because I know, in my heart of hearts, that giving to our Clubs and our Club kids changes lives. Because I know that the support of our partners, donors and community members makes a direct impact. 

By Erin Porteous, CEO

I’d like to interrupt your regular holiday programming with something a little different today. With something unexpected and something joyful. While this time of year is definitively (and wonderfully) all about gratitude and giving, what I’ve come to discover at our Clubs is that these themes play themselves out in ways that may surprise you. 

I spend my days as CEO grateful for the opportunity to share stories about our Club kids and the miracle moments they experience in our Clubs: those moments when they build confidence in themselves and see their own bright futures come to life for the first time. I share these stories because I know, in my heart of hearts, that giving to our Clubs and our Club kids changes lives. Because I know that the support of our partners, donors and community members makes a direct impact. 

So here is what you may not know: that support is not a one-way street. It becomes part of a sustainable cycle of community-building and giving that – quite literally – builds upon itself. Why? Because those same values of generosity and giving back are reflected in our Club kids. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver teen members volunteer more than twice as often as other teens. They completed more than 8,500 hours of service last year alone. Our Club members organize and carry out hundreds of projects every year to lend a hand and make a difference in their schools, Clubs and neighborhoods. 

Our Clubs teach young people how to roll up their sleeves, dig in, and become active participants in their community. Talk to any one of them – and you will notice those common themes of gratitude and giving back.  

So I’d like to introduce you to Nathan. He is 16, and when he started coming to the Club at the age of six, he struggled with figuring out who he wanted to be. A naturally quiet kid, he always felt like he had to put on a mask and pretend to be someone he was not – tougher, louder or more outgoing.

Nathan, age 16

The Club changed that. Through leadership programs and by building trusted relationships with staff and friends, he no longer struggled with self-acceptance. And as he grew up in the Club, he took on leadership roles and truly built community. “It’s helped me, the sense of a second family. We build each other up and I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends.”  

These days, Nathan’s calm confidence speaks for itself, and his driving force is to help others in the same way the Club has helped him. He has been a Counselor in Training at Gates Camp, a peer leader in the Club and will soon become a Junior Staff member – his first job. His dream for the future is to become a social worker and start a nonprofit organization, similar to Boys & Girls Clubs.  He said, “The Club helped me break out of my shell. Now, I see myself being a leader in the community and running a nonprofit organization to help children.” 

Nathan’s story echoes those of so many of our Club members. One after the next speaks about their hopes to help others and to become changemakers. Our Club kids will look at me with their wide-open eyes and unbridled optimism and tell me, in detail, how they are going to become leaders in their communities and provide opportunities for other kids like them.  

So, especially this time of year, I’m heartened when our Club kids remind me that a giving spirit doesn’t end, ever. It only ever grows. It is part of a cycle, a force for good and a force for change. Because our Clubs change lives. And then our Club kids go out and change the world.