The Boys & Girls Club of New Britain is a youth service organization focusing on children ages 6-18. The Club provides a variety of educational, recreational and preventative programs as a means to provide positive alternatives for the ever changing needs and challenges facing today's youth.
To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Civil War had been over for twenty-five years and the wounds of the country were beginning to mend. In New Britain, Connecticut, a small band of influential and concerned citizens were united under the leadership of John C. Eastman, Secretary of the Connecticut Auxiliary Committee on Work for Boys, for the purpose of organizing a Boys Club modeled after the Club that was founded in 1860 in Hartford. This dedicated group of volunteers worked tirelessly to raise $100, and on March 10, 1891, the Boys Club of New Britain opened its doors for the first time in the Herald Hall on Church Street. The Club, which accommodated about 400 boys, provided a place where boys could participate in sports, recreation, and learn basic skills that they would use throughout the remainder of their lives. Over the next 115 years, the Club was witness to the inauguration of 21 presidents, the first flight of the Wright Brothers, the invention of the horseless carriage, the settlement of the Western frontier, the Stock Market crash of 1929, two world wars, several world conflicts, the invention of the electric light bulb, radio, television, the computer, and the landing of a man on the moon. At the turn of the century America experienced great growth as a nation. The Industrial Revolution was in high gear and the country was a magnet for immigrants from all over the world. The city of New Britain assumed the character of a major metropolitan area prospering during this period, both through its growth as an industrial and as a population center. European migration into the area was particularly heavy. The Boys Club became an integral part in the family life of those immigrants by helping them adapt to their new country and providing them with many of the skills they needed to survive. The Boys Club provided a safe haven where boys of any nationality, race, or religion could come and be developed physically, mentally, and morally. Boys Clubs during this period were in their infancy, with the National Federation of Boys Clubs not evolving until 1906. The New Britain Club continued to grow in size and stature and in 1916 moved to a two family wooden house on East Main Street. It was at this location that the Club offered dormitories for boys who were without homes. In 1920, the Club dedicated a new gymnasium which enabled it to better serve its over 900 members.. The Club marked the beginning of an era in its evolution with the hiring of Dwight Skinner, a former Boy Scout Professional, as its Executive Director, a position that he would retain for the next 39 years. Mr. Skinner founded the Ladies Auxiliary of the New Britain Boys Club. The auxiliary would become invaluable during the Great Depression of the 1930's when the Community Chest collapsed and left the agencies it supported, such as the Boys Club, without funding. It was the Ladies Auxiliary, in tandem with Skinner and the Board of Directors, who developed the means to maintain operations at the club without interrupting services, despite the devastating economic conditions of the period. The signal that the New Britain Boys Club had weathered this catastrophic epoch in American history came in 1934 when the Club's application for membership in the Boys Club Association of America was approved. The Club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1941 and once again saw many of its favorite sons march off to war. However, the club became the central caretaker for many boys whose mothers were now working in defense plants, and whose fathers were off fighting the war. It was the Boys Club who helped preserve the family structure during a time which is considered to be one of the darkest the world has ever known. Following the conclusion of the war, focus was placed on putting the lives of families torn apart by war back together. Once again, the Boys Club was there to meet the challenge. The Club continued to grow and prosper to meet the needs of a new social consciousness where mothers and fathers both worked, where television became the main source of leisure time activity and where the country prepared to enter the tumultuous decade of the 50's. 1950 saw the construction of a brick building to replace the original wooden structure, with 1957 bringing the dedication of the Abbe Memorial Swimming Pool. A sad year was marked in 1962 in the history of the organization with the premature passing of Dwight Skinner. John Karbonic was appointed as Executive Director and would remain in the position for 20 years. Under Mr. Karbonic's leadership, the Club would survive the teenage revolution of the 1960's and move into the 1970's. In 1971, a capital fund drive was kicked off for the relocation of the Club due to massive development of the Route 72 Highway, which would bisect the city. 1972 saw the establishment of the Angelo Tomasso, Sr. Memorial Scholarship at the Club and the dedication of its current building at 150 Washington Street. As the Club entered the 1980's with its ever increasing complex social issues, it focused on adapting to meet the needs of a whole new generation of boys with their own unique problems. The reins of command were passed to Stan M. Glowiak in 1983 to meet these new and demanding challenges. Once again, the Ladies Auxiliary was there to establish the John Karbonic Scholarship. 1986 was a banner year for the Boys Club when its membership roles reached a new all time high of 1654 members. In 1988, the Boys Club dedicated the Nazzarena Tomasso Park, an outdoor recreational facility, and at the same time began the development of a long-range plan which would help it provide the next three generations of New Britain's youth. The Club, in adapting its focus to address a whole new series of problems facing youth, dedicated the "Ernie" Brainard Learning Center in 1989 and took over the operation of Camp Schade in 1990. On February 26, 1992, the Boys Club officially changed its name to the Boys & Girls Club of New Britain, now opening its doors to include the young female population of the City. Renovations took place to complete the transition with the building being re-dedicated on December 9, 1992. Also during 1992, Todd Czuprinski was appointed as Executive Director of the Club with the goal to meet the ever changing needs of youth in the 1990's and beyond. Now, as the Boys & Girls Club of New Britain goes into the new millennium, we have again risen to new challenges. Ever changing technology has brought the addition of a computer lab and technology center. We also operate a state licensed Day Care center for 3 and 4 year olds and are NAEYC accredited. Because we continue to meet the needs of families, our doors open every day after school for members, causing our membership to increase steadily. Our Club now averages 2,500 members per year of which approximately 700 are girls. This has become a main focus as we continue to expand programming for our young female members. Sadly, 2005 saw the end of an era when the Ladies Auxiliary disbanded. Due to a lack of new membership and the current members being infirmed or aging, the Ladies Auxiliary was left with no other option than to dissolve. Many years of dedicated service were given by the Auxiliary and we appreciate all of their hard work. The 100th anniversary of Boys & Girls Clubs of America was celebrated in 2006. This anniversary is special because our Boys & Girls Club is one of the first 53 clubs that united in Boston in 1906 to form the Federated Boys? Clubs, the first organization of its kind. Also in 2006, after 115 years, we celebrated another milestone when we welcomed our first woman president to serve on our Board of Directors. Judith K. Greco, who has been an active board member for more than thirty years, proudly accepted this position. So, while it?s true that many things have changed over the years, there is one thing that will remain the same as we head into the new century; our mission. We will continue to be here for our members and we will always be ?A Positive Place for Kids,? as long as kids need a safe haven where they can be themselves and have fun while learning the skills they need to become productive members of our society.