Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich Ground Breaking: The promise of endless possibilities, growth, and transformative experiences

Monday morning’s ground breaking ceremony for the expansion and renovation at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich was attended by Governor Ned Lamont, and the Greenwich delegation to Hartford – State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150), State Rep Rachel Khanna (D-149), State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151) and State Senator Ryan Fazio (R-36).

The Club was able to jump start the construction project thanks $6.5 million in state bond funding to support the project.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont spoke at the ground breaking for the renovation and expansion of the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. Oct 23, 2023 Photo Leslie Yager

Shovels in the ground at the ground breaking ceremony at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. Left to right, State Rep Rachel Khanna (D-149) State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151), State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150), Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Selectwoman Lauren Rabin and State Senator Ryan Fazio (R-36).

State Rep Steve Meskers thanked the Governor and the House delegation for their efforts on bonding for the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich renovation and expansion. Oct 23, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Program director Don Palmer waves to the crowd at the ground breaking ceremony for renovations at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. Oct 23, 2023

Cristina Vittoria, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club at the ground breaking. Oct 23, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

The Governor, who was introduced by State Rep Meskers as the best Governor in the county by far, said there was a bit of a stereotype of Greenwich up in Hartford.”

“You have a bit of a pushy delegation, to tell you the truth,” Lamont said. “I hear from them loud and clear, but they’re pushing on an open door.

“From my family, the Boys & Girls Club has been a big piece of our lives going back many years,” Lamont said. “I used to host the ping-pong championships here.”

He joked that when he visited the club this summer and asked the children what they’d do if they were Governor for a day, they said, ‘No more school, but Boys & Girls Club all day long.’

“Well, you got half your wish,” he joked.

“Everything in Connecticut seems to be really old. This building goes back 100 years as well. This is an upgrade that is probably 50 years overdue,” Lamont said. “I know the Ashforth’s are going to get it right, and we’re going to get it right for our kids.”

Governor Ned Lamont played a round of “Are you smarter than your Governor?” at the Boys & Girls Club. July 14, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

State Rep Meskers said the delegation in Hartford had worked tirelessly to support the project and thanked the Governor for including it in the bonding grant for this year.

“Greenwich has a diverse economic population. Approximately 30% are economically at risk,” Meskers said. “The Greenwich Boys & Girls Club is focused and dedicated to providing leadership skills, educational outreach, and support to a diverse group of wonderful residents. I have attended numerous awards ceremonies highlighting the Club’s positive role for our kids.”

“I also want to thank Hector and Rachel, particularly for their support in lobbying for
this grant with the House leadership,” Meskers added. “I want to remind the general public that we need your ongoing financial support to complete this project.”

Also attending the event were elected officials Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, Selectwoman Lauren Rabin and Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan, as well as Andy Ashforth is Co-CEO of The Ashforth Company.

And of course there were Club Kids attended, including 2023 Youth of the Year, Jada Brewington, Club teens, and their families.

“For over 100 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich has provided a safe and nurturing environment where children and teenagers can learn, grow, and develop essential life skills,” said Boys & Girls Club CEO Cristina Vittoria. “Improving our Clubhouse enhances the quality of services offered and ensures equitable access to all kids in Greenwich, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

Eileen Tang, Board Chair, listed some of the improvements anticipated in the project, including a new teen center, a centrally located kitchen and lounge and a new security vestibule and entrance.

“This 86-year-old building has some old infrastructure – we are excited to modernize all the systems so this Club can run efficiently for the next 40 years,” Tang said.

Capital Campaign co-chair George Fox described the “magic” that takes place at the Club through opportunities for personal growth, education, leadership, and the chance to give back to the community that supports them.

“We provide a service to parents and families, and put kids out in our community who contribute positively to society,” Fox said.

Capital Campaign co-chair Tony Mann said the club’s $75 membership fee was intentionally low.

“Our annual fee of $75 is unheard of in this town for after-school care,” Mr. Mann said. “It is a purposeful decision we make to keep our costs so affordable that all families and youth can come here. This is a club for every young child and teen.”

Founded in 1910 and built in the 1930s, BGCG’s Clubhouse has served thousands of young people in the course of its history. This marks the organization’s first major renovation project in nearly 20 years.