Boys and Girls Club flourishes under new leadershipp
A look inside:
The Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BGC) has seen some big change over the past year-and-a-half.
The club’s leadership has been taken over by a group of fresh faces, including Executive Director Denisa Sanness, who formerly worked for North Rocky View Community Links.
Other changes include the opening of The Centre, the BGC’s youth facility, located at the Ron Ebbesen Arena; an increase in staff from a small group to more than 30 full-time, casual and part-time workers; and a notable increase in programs and membership.
“The growth has its challenges,” said Sanness, adding her goal over the past year has been to stabilize the organization to allow for future growth.
“I absolutely love it. I love projects and new things. My background is at-risk youth, so it is nice to be able to support youth and support the community. It is amazing to be part of an organization that (the leadership) can incorporate our own beliefs and values in.”
According to Sanness, the BGC now offers programming in small centres in the area, including Crossfield, Irricana, Beiseker and Chestermere. The organization is planning more changes, including opening a new clubhouse in Irricana in January, bring the BGC facility count to three, including the club’s Allen Street location. Sanness said the BGC has been discussing offering programming in other communities such as Carstairs and Drumheller.
Despite its growth, the organization has maintained its tight-knit atmosphere, something that is near to Sanness’ heart.
“As we grow, we don’t want to lose that sense of family,” she said. “Keeping that glue that keeps us connected is one of our priorities.”
Sanness said the dedication of her staff and volunteers is outstanding.
“I am extremely proud of my staff,” she said.
Tammy Macnab, the BGC’s manager of finance and administration, has been working at the club for about a year.
She said she is excited to be part of such a cohesive team.
“I completely love it,” said Macnab. “We have been able to really develop the kind of team that we really want to have at the BGC here. Our focus is really strongly on keeping folks accountable and really creating a respectful environment and we also have fun.
“Even our members and our volunteers, they all feel like they are part of something special. We are all about the children and the youth and they keep us on our toes.”
Quinn Donaldson, manager of community and children’s services, is also part of the BGC’s new leadership team. Her role is to develop programs for six to 12 year olds, oversee and train staff and work to provide home support.
Donaldson said she has spent the last year trying to implement unique programming to the club, including a personal favourite that combines traditional arts and crafts with digital technology.
Another personal favourite is Friends for Life, a program that teaches anxiety reduction, coping skills and how to make and keep friends.
Donaldson, who has a background in early childhood development and previously worked for North Rocky View Community Links, said she loves working with the children and youth at the club.
“My favourite (thing) is… being able to get down and play with the kids,” she said. “It is a really fun environment. You can’t leave without a smile on your face.”