Local man shares his passion for the club
A look inside: The Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie
Airdronian Eric Hvidsten, 26, has been part of the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BG Club) for almost 21 years.
“It is a second family,” he said. “It’s like a second home.”
Hvidsten, who grew up across the street from the club’s Allen Street location, first got involved with the BG Club when he was six years old. Following in his older sister’s footsteps, he regularly attended the club’s after-school and summer-camp programs.
As a teen, he, along with a group of about 20 other members, travelled with the club to Eastern Canada on an exchange with a Newfoundland club. The trip, filled with sea kayaking and hiking adventures, is some of Hvidsten’s fondest memories.
Hvidsten became a leader right after high school, volunteering for Keystone, a leadership and mentorship group for youth ages 13 and older.
Now a staff member, Hvidsten co-leads the Keystone group with friend Evan Johnson and works at The Centre, the club’s youth hangout, located in the Ron Ebbesen Arena. As an employee in the facility’s after-school program, Hvidsten teaches cooking classes and this year, will be organizing an after-school sports program.
The sports program is a good fit for Hvidsten, a natural athlete who grew up playing hockey, volleyball and basketball.
Hvidsten, who graduated from Airdrie’s George McDougall High School, especially loves teaching the cooking programs, saying it matches his passion and life-long goal of becoming a chef.
Hvidsten grew up watching both sets of grandmothers cook and caught the bug early.
“I started watching the Food Network when I was six, and (becoming a chef has) been a dream since,” he said, adding he is working towards pursuing a career in the industry.
Currently, on top of his work at the BG Club, Hvidsten works 40 hours per week at Propak operating a mobile crane. Although, with his early-morning shift, his schedule can be tiring, Hvidsten said he could never give up his commitment to the BG Club.
“It’s not even a question in my mind,” he said. “(The club) takes precedence over everything.”
Hvidsten’s goal is to share his passion for the club with Airdrie youth.
“I want people here,” he said. “We (the club) get a bad reputation for being for the underprivileged, but it’s not like that. It’s not exclusive; it’s for everyone.”
Hvidsten said throughout his involvement in the club, he has come to view the organization as a family.
“It’s not like you walk in and (you are) an employee,” said Hvidsten. “It’s friends and family. The doors are always open here. I trust everyone here with my life.”