Boys & Girls Club marks 88th year Club that beats the streets
Some 160 people, young and old, from many cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds, gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Bethlehem to celebrate an institution that serves all young people and binds them together, the Boys and Girls Club of Bethlehem, now 88 years old. Built next to the Marvine/Pembroke Village Housing Development, the club is open to kids ages 6-18.
The club is an active place. This past quarter there were 1,800 enrollees. “Over the summer, the building was packed,” said Gary Martell, the chief professional officer. Activities include programs to develop character and leadership, to enhance education and provide career direction, to teach health and well-being, to develop creativity, and to develop fitness, positive use of leisure time, and social and interpersonal skills. Gang prevention and drug prevention are key goals of the club. In Martell’s words, it is “the club that beats the streets.”
The highlight of the dinner was a moving speech by the guest of honor, one of the Phillies’ greatest players, the former all-star shortstop and manager, Larry Bowa. Larry was joined on the trip to Bethlehem by his wife, Patty. To support the club, Larry declined an honorarium.
Larry used his life story to encourage, advise and challenge his young listeners. Who would have guessed that a man who was elected to the National League All-Star Team five times and who was twice awarded the Golden Glove for defense was cut from his high school’s baseball team in all four years? Or who, in his first professional game, struck out four times? (That was nothing to be ashamed of, in fact – the pitcher was Nolan Ryan.) Larry generously attributed much of his success to others – to coaches who believed in him when he wasn’t sure about himself, to teammates who stood behind him on disappointing days – and to good luck. But he also emphasized his own commitment and hard work, and his determination to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. Dissatisfied with his performance at the plate, for example, he took batting practice till his hands bled. Dedication, hard work, and sacrifice are the keys to success in whatever career a young person chooses, Larry emphasized. Also essential are teammates and coaches such as the kids have at the Boys and Girls Club.
Bowa will be back in the Lehigh Valley on June 10, 2019, as the featured guest in the 40th annual golf tournament to support the Boys and Girls Club of Bethlehem. The tournament will take place at the Steel Club in Hellertown (formerly Silver Creek). For tickets, contact DeAnna Genthner, Director of Fundraising, at (484) 894-0122.
Another photo on A16