The Very Beginning
In 1860, a time when low wages, exploitation of workers and poor housing gave rise to poverty and deprivation, young people began to resort to vandalism, robbery, muggings and street fights. One day, three compassionate ladies invited a group of street boys into their home for tea or coffee and cake. The positive behavior and obvious appreciation of the boys completely surprised the ladies, so they extended their hospitality several more times with the same positive response from the boys. Before they knew it, they had already begun to lay the foundation of what would later become the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Realizing the immense need for an alternative to the streets, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County opened for the first time in Memorial Park on July 1, 1995 serving 180 children and youth. Quickly filling the small rooms and halls, the park provided the perfect location for members to engage in fun, positive activity outside. This was the beginning of what would create a lasting impact on the community for years to come.
In 2005, The Boys & Girls Clubs opened much larger doors of a brand new 35,000sf building that could house over 400 kids a day. Complete with two full gymnasiums, art room, cafeteria, dance studio, computer lab and library, this provided the space and means for greater and more impactful programming and after-school activities, extending our reach into the community. As membership reached capacity and waiting lists grew larger, families and youth were heartbreakingly turned away, a constant reminder that the need is ever present.
Expanding our Reach
With crime rates plummeting within a 3 mile radius of the Club since it opened, it was evident that youth were making the choice to belong to the Club rather than to belong to a gang. In the fall of 2013, BGCOKC strategically partnered with a local elementary school, establishing the first school based site in South Oklahoma City. Following the success and impact of the Santa Fe South Club, BGCOKC continued to expand its reach in January 2014 through a second school based site in South Oklahoma City - Cesar Chavez. With excitement and great need, our fourth site opened at Telstar Elementary in September 2015. At present, these four Clubs collectively serve over 800 youth and teens a day.