The Boys & Girls Clubs of Kingston is part of a nationwide affiliation of local, autonomous organizations and Boys & Girls Clubs of America working to help youth of all backgrounds develop the qualities needed to succeed in life. It is facility based, employs 5 full time professionals, 14 to 20 part time employees and 6 to 10 volunteers and offers daily access to a broad range of programs in five core program areas: Character and Leadership development, Educational and Career Development, Health and Life Skills, The Arts, and Sports, Fitness and Recreation.
Today over 1,000 boys and girls at risk and in need are taking advantage of the programs activities and services provided. They benefit from trained, caring professional staff and volunteers who help young people take control of their lives, envision productive futures and reach their goals.
Kingston businessman Alexander “Pop” Furman in the early 1940’s decided something had to be done about all the boys that were just “hanging around” on Broadway and Kingston’s midtown neighborhood with not much to do, and no place to go. They were not bad boys, just boys with nothing to do.
Pop understood that these circumstances could lead to trouble, trouble for the boys, trouble for their families and trouble for Kingston.
Fortunately for all, “Pop” Furman was a take-charge guy who did not look for someone else to do what he knew had to be done. Pop opened his art supply store to the boys. He taught them woodworking skills and gave them encouragement by providing a place where Kingston boys could find acceptance, understanding and fellowship.
Soon “ Pop” had more boys than his store could hold, even on the sunniest of days. For a time, the boys used a barn over on Clinton Avenue as their clubhouse. “Pops” efforts in providing a positive environment for development of the boy’s moral, character and good citizenship did not go unnoticed by his fellow Kingstonian’s especially Police Officer Ken Hyatt. It wasn’t long before “Pops” was being encouraged and supported by the Kingston Patrolman’s Association, the Junior League of Kingston and others that rallied around his leadership.
When part of a row house on Greenkill Avenue became available, the Board of Directors of what had become the Kingston Boys Club Incorporated April 1949, made arrangements to give the club a real presence in Kingston. After renting for several years the board purchased the entire 5-unit structure in 1963 at 139 Greenkill Avenue. Over the next three years, with help from area businessmen, labor unions and many socially minded individuals all pulling together the Greenkill building was renovated to accommodate the necessary program space and offices for a real Boys Club. The Club was elected into Boys Clubs of America in 1952.
After many years of programs and neglect the Greenkill Avenue building became beyond repair and the Board agreed to build a new facility at the same location. In 1989 a Capital Campaign was launched for this project and $ 1,000,000.00 was raised. Construction started early 1990 and the 15,600 square foot new club was finished and opened October 1990. AT the same time, the corporation changed its name and service to Boys & Girls Clubs of Kingston, Inc.
In May 1996, local resident Betsy Sinsabaugh contacted Saugerties High School Key Club advisor Louise Gallagher to enlist Key Club’s help in distributing a survey to students about their thoughts on bringing a youth club to Saugerties. The response to these surveys showed overwhelmingly, that students saw a need for and would participate in such a club.
That summer, several community members, as well as members of the Key Club, met to pursue this idea. After several months of meetings, it was decided that an open forum would be held and several organizations were invited to give the public and the coalition an idea of what they had to offer. The Boys & Girls Club program seemed to have the best educational and enrichment programs the club was asked by the coalition to start a Unit in Saugerties.
A plan was established and a Unit Board was put together. The Town and Village of Saugerties were approached for funding for this project as well as the NYS Division for Youth funds and the Unit Board put a fundraising strategy in place to be able to provide the needed services and programs. The school system was approached for use of the Elementary schools for after school childcare programs and evening drop in programs.
Even though the program continued to grow using the schools we were at the mercy of the school system and needed a Home of Our Own. The Board put together a capital campaign plan to build a new facility in Saugerties. As of January 2006 we completed construction on a new 7,000 square foot facility which opened in early March 2006 for programming to serve the youth of Saugerties.
As of December 2012 the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kingston, Inc served 1,360 registered members in all our sites and served another 700 youth in various specialty and open programs. The club currently has an operating budget of $577,000.00. Through the support of donors we have raised over $2,000,000.00 in the last 15 years for two major construction projects. The support of the Kingston and Saugerties communities has been fantastic however, both communities are small and we are reaching the level of funding that is attainable from these communities. Additional funding is necessary to keep the ongoing programs at the level of success that we currently enjoy.