By Erin Porteous, CEO

At each of our Clubs, our kids arrive at our front doors with their backpacks on and their joys, worries – and sometimes – the weight of the world in tow. When their hands grasp that heavy front door handle and pull it open, they are often stepping out of unpredictability and into safety. As they leave the outside world behind and step into the Club, our kids are greeted with welcoming and familiar smiles from our staff. They do their temperature check while they (especially our younger members) almost bounce with the anticipation of not only fun – but freedom. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you can almost see the weight lifted off their shoulders in that space of transition; their eyes light up with the truly liberating combination of certainty and possibility.

By Erin Porteous, CEO

At each of our Clubs, our kids arrive at our front doors with their backpacks on and their joys, worries – and sometimes – the weight of the world in tow. When their hands grasp that heavy front door handle and pull it open, they are often stepping out of unpredictability and into safety. As they leave the outside world behind and step into the Club, our kids are greeted with welcoming and familiar smiles from our staff. They do their temperature check while they (especially our younger members) almost bounce with the anticipation of not only fun – but freedom. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you can almost see the weight lifted off their shoulders in that space of transition; their eyes light up with the truly liberating combination of certainty and possibility.

In so many ways, the front door of the Club is a hand outstretched. It is the promise of safety and a place to find solid ground in a world that trembles and shakes. And when our Club kids step inside – into a game room or a reading room or a classroom – the outside world recedes. I’m reminded of what Zach Vigil, Athletics Specialist at our Owen Club, said“The Boys & Girls Club is where you can leave your problems outsideWhen you’re here, you don’t have to worry about that. If you’re hungry, we’ll feed you. If you’re sad, we’ll lift you up.” 

At Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, we are humbled and honored to provide that for our Club kids every day. Our work is essential because having a safe space is essential. This is more evident to us now than it ever has been before, in all of our 60-year history. For our Club kids, safety has always meant shelter from the stressors of the world outside, but – even more importantly – the Clubs have also always been spaces that are free of judgement and full of acceptance. The Club is a place where optimism and belief in every child’s potential guides every interaction. It is a place to be exactly who you are and then discover the up-until-now unimagined version of the incredible person you can be. 

We know that it is safety and security that allows for possibility and creativity. So, in a year when so many of us have mourned the loss of possibility and spontaneity, I’m reminded of what a typical day in our Clubs feels like. Because even now, with every safety precaution in place, from face masks to strict cohorts, you can hear, feel and see the sparks of optimism and growth. It’s quieter, yes. But no less potent. 

Today, in a world that we are perhaps too quickly rushing to label as “post-pandemic”, we are certainly all still searching for solid ground. The social, cultural and economic ramifications of this global experience will be more far-reaching than we can even imagine. But for the first time in nearly a year, I believe we are pulling open the door, perhaps even stepping into a space of transition. It’s not exactly leaving the chaos of yesterday behind, but it’s within steps of a world that is safer, more predictable. And it is there where I think we can both recover and rediscover our capacity for exploration, creativity and joy. We are certain of this possibility because we see it every day at Boys & Girls Clubs. We invite you to join us in our optimism for a brighter future that may still be a little far off – but is now, gratefully, within sight.