In the fall of 1934 a schoolboy's tragic death set into motion a train of events which resulted in the birth of the Lansingburgh Boys Club 3 years later. A policeman shot and killed a young boy who was robbing a store. Concerned citizens who condemned the killing did a study which revealed that the burglary was prompted by the conditions of the times.
In 1937, after overcoming many hardships, a Second Avenue building was rented which was to be the first Boys Club of Lansingburgh. The building was the former Lansing Hotel. A supervisor was named and until it joined the Community Chest the Club was kept operable through the efforts and financial support of concerned citizens.
One such group was the Rotary Club of Lansingburgh. Founded in 1955 by members of the Board of Directors of the Lansingburgh Boys Club the Rotary Club has contributed immeasurably to the success of the Lansingburgh Boys & Girls Club financially as well as in sacrificial service of its members.
From the very beginning, the Lansingburgh Boys Club was identified as an agency that could truly make a difference for our youth. Its sole purpose was to give the boys of Lansingburgh a place to gather. Over the past 70+ years, it has expanded into a center serving the needs of not only boys and girls but all the residents of the community. Staffing patterns have increased from a one man organization with a few volunteers to its present staff of 5 professionals, a secretary, maintenance staff and part time workers. Invaluable assistance is provided on a daily basis by Foster Grandparents who are assigned to the Club by CEO.
The facility itself has changed from a rented hotel to a new building complete with a gym, indoor swimming pool, games room, arts & crafts room, library, computer room and wellness room for adult use. The "new" building located at 113th Street and 4th Avenue was built in 1964 when a Capital Fund Drive was approved by the United Community Services. Approximately $215,000 was needed to assure the completion of the new building. The Drive was started with a generous contribution of $12,000 from the Rotary Club of Lansingburgh. For several years the building has been mortgage free.
The Club's success can be measured by the number of expansions necessitated since 1964. Within 4 years of the building's completion more games room space was needed. Through Community Development monies and private contributions, the addition was completed with no outstanding debt.
Membership in the Club continued to grow because it offered varied programming of a recreational, educational and vocational nature. In 1986 the Club underwent yet another expansion - a 96,000 square foot addition which provides mens' and womens' lockers, exercise room, meeting rooms, a community room and kitchen.
The kitchen was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the New York State Legislature and the $400,000 wing was completed with Community Development funding and other grants. This new wing truly converted the facility into a community center. In 1999 the Club added a parking lot made possible through the acquisition, demolition and blacktopping of the property directly adjacent to it. This project was also completed with funding provided through a Community Development Block Grant.
Today a tremendous variety of programs are offered at the Club. Licensed by New York State, the Club provides a School Age Child Care Program of before and after school care for children of working parents. Thanks to a grant from the Troy Housing Authority which provides for a School Age Child Care Scholarship Fund, several children from the Corliss Park Public Housing Project are picked up and brought to the Club each day after school. They spend a few hours involved in recreational and educational activities and then are driven home.
Among the many successful activities offered daily are Power Hour and Project Learn which are educational support programs developed and pioneered by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Objectives include encouraging youth to become self directed learners and assume responsibility for their own educational success or failure, help children to interact socially, build self esteem and develop a positive attitude toward school. The Club's academic support room provides these students with the quiet structure and support they need to complete their homework, study for tests and work on projects.
The Club is also a PowerUP site - a state of the art technology center equipped with 12 computers thanks to funding donated by Steve Case of America Online. A Road Runner Club has also been installed through the generosity of TimeWarner Cable.
Another extremely popular program at the Boys & Girls Club is the Kids Cafe which opened in 2003 thanks to a collaboration between the Club, ConAgra Foods, America's Second Harvest and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The Cafe is open for dinner 3 days a week and snack 2 days a week. All children are encouraged to participate. They receive a hot, nutritious dinner at no cost and have the opportunity to socialize with their peers in a family type environment.
Over the years the Club has been the recipient of funding from a variety of sources including state, county and city government, local foundations, United Way and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition to the Rotary Club of Lansingburgh numerous fraternal and civic organizations have also been most generous to the Club including the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, the Veterans of Lansingburgh, the All Troy Club and the American Legion Barrett Post.
Perhaps the most unique key to the Club's success is the longevity and Burgh ties of both the staff and the Board of Directors. All the full time staff have been affiliated with the Club since they were children. Several of the present day members of the Board of Directors are second generation members - their fathers or fathers-in-law served on the original Board. Many of theBoard members grew up at the Club. Former Board President Paul Tucci joined as a members over 40 years ago. Members Rich Sheffer, Paul Burke, John Conroy and Mario Musolino were Boys of the Year. According to Joe Manupella, who joined the Club as a member when it opened and has been the Executive Director for over 40 years, "It is this kind of commitment that makes us truly unique. While some may criticize constancy as a negative, we celebrate our traditions, our loyalties and our deep rooted familiarity with the neighborhood as our greatest strength."