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The Boys & Girls Club Never Left Me

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The Boys & Girls Club Never Left Me
I joined the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region in 1989, only two years after the Club started accepting girls. I was proud and honored to be named Youth of the Year in 1994 (see newspaper clipping below). That was twenty years ago...can you believe it?

I had a loving, single, hard-working mom, so I went to the Club after school and all day in the summer. I am happy to say that the person I am today is, in large part, a product of my wonderful experiences at the Boys & Girls Club.

For instance, I am not afraid to get involved with groups in my community. This stems from years of Friends of Animals Club, Senior Citizens Club, D.A.R.E, and neighborhood clean-ups with the Boys & Girls Club. I love to try new things. The Club offered dance troop, drama, cheerleading, sports, art and pottery, book clubs - you name it, I tried it! I'm confident and enjoy being with people because the Club provided social opportunities such as dances, talent shows, holiday events, and family dinner nights.

Last but not least, I'm not afraid of a little adventure. I had wonderful opportunities to go to sleep-away camps with the Club. A week away without parents was a big deal! It went a long way in developing my sense of independence while still providing a safe environment. I also learned how to roller skate and became an excellent swimmer because of summer field trips with the Club.

Some of my favorite memories are of Mr. Sonavich (the Director at that time). He was so nice, and he made the best ham sandwiches ever! I used to volunteer to help serve summer lunches - I felt so important, and there was extra chocolate milk and orange slices as a reward. Spur of the moment dance contests were always so much fun. And, I remember some messy pie eating contests (by “pie” I mean whipped cream on a plate with chocolate syrup). For hot summer evenings I remember sprinklers, sprinklers, and more sprinklers!

My unique mosaic of life experiences set me on a path to becoming a registered nurse and a life of helping other people. All of us Club kids have traveled different paths to adulthood; but the important constant is the solid foundation of caring support we received at the Club. Greatness exists there. I think I’ve always realized that even though I left the Boys & Girls Club, the Boys & Girls Club never left me. Just think of the amazing things that could be accomplished if the spirit of the Boys & Girls Club was instilled in every young person!

About Danielle
The author is Danielle Henderson (DiValerio). She joined the Boys & Girls Club of the Pike's Peak Region in 1989. She was named Youth of the Year in 1994 at age 13. She is now a registered nurse in Colorado Springs, where she lives with her husband and her two young children. After being asked to contribute this article, Danielle responded, “I just want to say thanks again for including me. I'm very excited and honored to be reintroduced to the Club again. Also, you have inspired me to go pick up applications for the kiddos as well as a volunteer app for me!” Still demonstrating that Boys & Girls Club spirit!

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Excerpt from Ute Pass Courier, Thursday, June 9, 1994