November 07, 2012BETHLEHEM — With eight years under its belt, the Boys and Girls Club of the North Country has much to celebrate. On Thursday, dozens of guests attended the club's Heart of the Community Breakfast. The festivities took place at the Maplewood in Bethlehem.
"This past year has been super, super exciting," Executive Director Eric Frydman said in his opening remarks. "Kids have a blast when they are there," he continued.
The club is located on Route 302 in Lisbon, near the Littleton line. The current facility was purchased two years ago. The 18,000 square feet of space provides a range of opportunities for kids through after school programs. There are also camps that run during school vacations.
Frydman said that the club continues to grow. One day last year saw 67 children at the club in one day. This broke the previous single-day record.
New funding is helping the club expand its facilities. Frydman said that a $20,000 grant will lead to a new kitchen. Another $5,000 is slated for a new computer lab at the club, he said.
Kids at the club spent a lot of time in a new garden this year, Frydman announced. He said that club kids grew the pumpkin centerpieces that were at each guest table.
Frydman thanked organizations that collaborate with the club, including UNH Cooperative Extension, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the United Way.
He also spoke of his gratitude toward the club's staff. Frydman said the employees are "the heart of the Boys and Girls Club."
Even with the growing achievements, Frydman mentioned several additional goals. He hopes that the club can gain its own transportation. Also, his sights are on a teen lounge at the club, an indoor batting cage or golf driving area, and a challenge course or rock climbing wall.
Frydman was also grateful for the club's supporters. He concluded his speech by saying, "Thank you again for your support for this wonderful organization."
Jennifer Bellville spoke next. She is the mother of club members. Bellville said that the club "is clearly about serving children and families." Her children enjoy the club's programs. "They have been afforded so many rich opportunities," Bellville said.
The club, Bellville concluded, serves as "the backbone of our community." She views it as "key to the future success and well-being of our children."
Lauren Alberini, Marketing Director at the Littleton Food Cooperative, echoed Bellville's views. She said that people should consider further ways to assist the club. "Think of a talent you'd like to share," Alberini noted. "You'll truly feel like you're at the heart of the community," she said.
Julia O'Connor, a student at Littleton High School, offered personal views on her club experience. "Coming to the Boys and Girls Club is my favorite time of day," she said. "In so many different ways," O'Connor told the audience, the club has made a profound impact on her life.
A live performance provided some entertainment later in the morning. Twelve club members danced to an assortment of song clips. The laughs and applause from the crowd were a lively sign of their appreciation.
Anita Craven of Easton, a founding member of the club, concluded the morning with comments on the club's importance. "The club's success is yet another reason why I'm an enthusiastic supporter," Craven said.
With smiles and pride filling the Maplewood, the club appears well poised for continued support. Frydman, staff, and the kids seem destined for many more years of fun, games, and life-changing perspectives.