To be honest, we weren’t sure if anyone would even care that BGC is celebrating our 80th birthday this year, that is, until we started talking about it.
Whether you’re following us on Twitter to read the daily reason that #BGCMatters or reading this weekly blog post profiling incredible stories of our alumni, you’re hearing directly from people who have benefited from belonging to BGC. Of course, we love these stories because they reinforce what we already know: that every kid is amazing, and when we show up for them, believe in them and offer support and opportunities, they grow up to be amazing adults who aren’t defined or limited by early hardships or struggles.
Today’s story comes from yet another community leader who has had a lifelong relationship with Boys and Girls Clubs. His own early experiences advised his career in policing, helping him hone a compassionate approach to youth, in particular, who are struggling. Read on for Retired VPD Chief Constable Bob Stewart’s full story.
Thanks so much to those of you who answered the call for sending kids to camp. And, if you meant to but didn’t, you can click here to make a trip to Camp Potlatch or summer day camps in the city possible for some amazing kids this summer.
I am both pleased and honored to be involved in writing a testament to the good work of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.
As an Honorary Director of this fine organization I believe it is important that I take a moment to explain how I got to become an Alumni. Born and raised in Vancouver beginning in the early days of the great depression and as a young boy, I looked to team play as the rare opportunity for entertainment and fellowship. Growing up in the East End also resulted in limited resources being available. In spite of this the “club environment” was a place to find new colleagues with similar needs. In my case, early involvement in the Hastings Blue Bird Club showed me the value of this type of organization. Through sports I learned all about team work, discipline, and sharing while meeting many new friends. Through competitive sports such as Lacrosse and Soccer, I was competing against young members from the Boys and Girls Clubs, in particular Kivan and Kimount. Learning how to win and lose are primary steps in developing good character and long-time healthy relationships.
In the early days of my chosen career as a police officer, I had regular exposure to the streets of Vancouver as a beat cop. I learned what I call street psychology about both adult and youth behaviour when exposed to the temptations of life. A police officer has the advantage of meeting people for the first time often under strange and difficult circumstances. Let me focus on the young for a moment. Kids with problems are usually the victims of poverty, loneliness, idle time, poor role models, and early exposure to criminal activity and social misbehaviour. A shocking sight is that of seeing a young person trapped in an addiction to one of the street drugs, now far too many varieties readily available to describe all of them. Prevention should be top of mind which is a very valid reason for being involved in the continuing work of BGC. I was eager to assist when asked by BGC to Chair a committee of staff and concerned professionals to provide support to the work of their Nexus and Odyssey programs. I can affirm that the BGC street workers are highly respected by our police. They actively provide early intervention and follow up with families and professionals involved in counselling and treatment and there is no shortage of positive outcomes.
I am sure you can see why I believe that providing an organized outlet such as the “Club” environment for all of these frustrations is the key to understanding the needs of a young individual who may be searching for attention and a positive peer group.
This leads me to a firm belief that the very diverse work being done by our Boys and Girls Clubs across the country is of vital importance. At the Club house there is exposure to good role models in both staff and managers besides excellent programming. Of great importance is that there are no restrictions and the door is always open.
I salute you, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.
Bob Stewart, Retired VPD Chief Constable