This past Thursday, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana hosted an alumni event for the closing of their Valparaiso Boys & Girls Club building, which served the youth of Porter County in the Old Gardner School for over 50 years.
The event, hosted by the Valpo Capital Campaign Community Outreach Committee, saw roughly 150 alumni and friends tour the second and third floors of the building. On display were old art projects and woodworks, photos from the past, and various other types of memorabilia.
A small program was held in the middle of the event, which saw the introduction of the organization’s highest award.
“It is only fitting that as we close this Club building forever, we recognize and honor the one person most responsible for its history and legacy,” said President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, Ryan Smiley, “please join me in congratulating the first recipient of the Chuck Leer Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. Chuck Leer!”
uture recipients of the Chuck Leer Lifetime Achievement Award will have large shoes to fill, as the award requires at least 30 years of extraordinary influence to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. Leer, whose long career saw 40 years of service, is best known for his work within the Porter County Clubs, of which he was able to provide massive capital improvements towards. Chuck was also the first to allow girls to attend the Clubs, even before the national organization approved females as members.
While gathered alumni reflected on their cherished memories in the old Valparaiso Club, the program concluded with a shift in focus towards the future. President & CEO Ryan Smiley invited members of the audience to take a virtual tour of the new Valparaiso Boys & Girls Club, located at 708 Evans Ave in Valparaiso. Set to open later in May the new Club sits on 36,000 square feet of land, and features modern equipment like a STEM lab, rock wall, full music recording studio, a teaching kitchen, and two full-sized gymnasiums.
Rob Thorgren, of Thorgren Tool & Molding, and Rick Urschel, of Urschel Laboratories, served as co-chairs for the Valpo Capital Campaign Community Outreach Committee, and reflected positively on their experiences with the Club.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana has been opening doors to GREAT FUTURES for Porter and Lake County youth for over 60 years. Clubs are open after school and provide great places for youth in grades K-12 to meet friends and have fun while in a safe, supervised environment. Clubs are open during holidays and in the summer. Annual membership is only $40.00. For information on membership, volunteer opportunities, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact your local Club by calling (219) 764-2582 or visiting bgcgreaternwi.org. Great Futures Start HERE.