MANCHESTER, NH — The Boys & Girls Club of Manchester (BGCM) cut the ribbon on their newly refurbished Camp Foster in Bedford. It was the culmination of a dream made possible in large part, by the long-term support of PROCON Owners Mark and Sally Stebbins. Boys & Girls Club CEO Diane Fitzpatrick and her team welcomed the Stebbins family, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, and many of the Club’s loyal supporters and alumni to the event.
The festivities included a ribbon-cutting for the newly named Stebbins Family Hall to honor the family that has partnered with the Club for more than three decades. Stebbins family members from three generations were all on hand to mark the occasion.
Camp Foster’s overhaul was long overdue, as it had fallen into disrepair with no major building renovations in the last 60 years. Post camp improvements feature a new pool house, amphitheater, basketball courts, a softball field, and a “beach” volleyball court. The Camp serves kids from the Greater Manchester area ages 5 to 18 with financial aid available for low-income families. Before renovations the camp served 410 kids each week, and now has a new goal of eventually serving 470 kids weekly. Additionally, in 2019, donations made it possible for $90,000 in scholarships to be awarded to kids participating in BGCM summer programs.
Fitzpatrick shared this reflection about the Stebbins’ support: “The Club is so honored that the Stebbins Family has generously supported the More Kids, Brighter Futures capital campaign as true leaders. With the renovations to Camp Foster complete, we now turn to expanding the Union Street Clubhouse. This will allow kindergarteners to attend the Club, and it will expand our Kids Club program by 100 youngsters. Once again, the Stebbins went above and beyond and came forward with a generous matching gift challenge to help us finish the capital campaign.”
With a little over three months left in the year, the BGCM is aiming to reach their $5.85 million goal by December 31, 2019. You can make it possible for more children to participate in Boys & Girls Club programs by donating today to the More Kids, Brighter Futures campaign. Every dollar given between now and December 31, 2019 will be matched by the Stebbins, doubling your impact.
Achieving the Dream
At the center of the Club’s dream is Diane Fitzpatrick whose face lights up when she talks about “her kids.” As the story goes, some years ago she and the Board of Directors began to strategize ways for taking the Club to the next level and reached out to faithful friends and supporters for their feedback. Among the “first responders” were Mark and Sally Stebbins. The Stebbinses made recommendations about future uses of the facility beyond an 11-week kid’s summer camp. “Their input caused us to envision bolder thinking — to dream bigger for the organization” stated Fitzpatrick, which is why the Board called the campaign “More Kids, Brighter Futures.”
Fitzpatrick and her team pulled together a new business plan fueled by those ideas that laid out a strategy for maximizing the Camp’s vision and purpose within the community. The plan also included ideas for positive changes at the Union Street Clubhouse, which was overflowing at 200 percent capacity. Ultimately, a two-phased plan was conceived to renovate Camp Foster followed by the Union Street location. But, to achieve the dream they first needed to raise $5.85 million. The goal appeared daunting, but remarkably, as word spread, Club supporters and community partners stepped up to donate to the cause.
“It all came about because of our relationships in the community,” Fitzpatrick said.
Phase one concluded the Camp Foster makeover when the summer camp re-opened in July, 2019. Recalling the day Fitzpatrick said, “A few of the former camp counselors came to the event and had tears in their eyes at seeing their old spaces renovated, and fresh joy at seeing their grandchildren experiencing these beautiful new spaces.” The reinvigorated camp (which is available to rent for business or social events, including weddings), has already generated bookings.
Now, with the Camp Foster renovations complete, there is still work to be done. Fitzpatrick has already turned her attention to phase two, which is adding a 4,700-square-footS multi-purpose space to the existing Union Street building, which is maxed-out at a 200 percent capacity with about 100 kindergarten through second-grade children on its waiting list.
As for Fitzpatrick, like a pendulum in motion, she must balance a profound satisfaction about the achievements-to-date while recognizing there is still much work to be done.
Your gift today to the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester will be doubled with a match from the Stebbins family. To give, go to www.BeGreatManchester.org/DonateNow, call Diane Fitzpatrick at the Club at (603) 625-5031, or mail a donation to Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, 555 Union Street, Manchester, NH 03104.
Boys & Girls Club of Manchester is one of 53 original organizations that forms the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. From its meager beginnings in 1907 as reading and recreation rooms, the Club has grown to include the main Clubhouse at 555 Union Street, two school-based after school sites at Jewett Street and Highland Goffe’s Falls Elementary Schools, and the Camp Foster summer day camp in Bedford, NH. For more information, visit www.BeGreatManchester.org.
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