On June 2, 2018, The West End House unveiled the completion of its major facility renovation and expansion resulting from the $23.5 million comprehensive “Expect More Campaign”. Each year The West End House Boys & Girls Club’s Annual Celebration exceeds expectations, but this year it marked two major milestones in history. The night was filled with inspiring speeches and collaborative performances by The West End House youth, some of the most exceptional young musicians, dancers, step team and spoken word artist, in the city of Boston, and an auction raising a record-breaking $1 million to directly support the year-round programs. John Berman, anchor of CNN Early Start was the emcee for the evening for the fourth year.
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At the 3rd Annual Biggest Fun Ever event, the West End House Boys & Girls Club hosted over 300 community members. The Jaffier Family, Governor Charlie Baker and other public officials were in attendance for the biggest block party of the year. Members of the community got together to celebrate the beautiful life of Dawnn Jaffier, a lifelong West End House club and staff member whose life was taken far too soon.
At the West End House Boys & Girls Club’s Annual Celebration, the organization announced the public phase of their comprehensive campaign. The fun filled night of creative performances and impassioned speeches culminated with an outpouring of support from the community. The result was nearly $650 thousand dollars raised by the end of the evening.
Following an epic spoken-word performance by a Club member, Tyler, Board President Andrew Musto kicked off the festive evening with opening remarks highlighting just a few of the many positive and hopeful aspects of the club. He emphasized achievement of the young people and purpose of the club saying, “You can just see in the faces of our young people, we are creating a funnel of high-performing, high-passion, high-character young people for not just the “Eds and Meds of Boston” but truly the future leaders of our entire community.” Also during Andrew’s address he put into perspective the sense of togetherness and community that is vital to the West End House and its mission. “All of us in the room have an important role to play– as supporters, as volunteers and role models for our youth, as prospective employers to make their blueprints come to life”, he said. He noted that the West End House is one of the largest year-round employers of teens in the City of Boston and that they served over 100,000 fresh, healthy, homemade meals in their kitchen last year, empowering young people to make healthy choices that will last a lifetime. It was a very tangible example of the profound impact the West End House has had on countless individuals, families and communities beyond the confines of the physical space.
Among those in attendance was staff, volunteers, past presidents and board members and business and community leaders. The real stars of the night, however, were the past and present members of the West End House who impressed at every turn. Alumni who have made their mark on college campuses, business and industry and in communities all over the country came back to renew old ties and to support their club. Current students of the many programs captivated the audience with a variety of artistic expressions from the opening act spoken word performance to song and dance and eloquent words that inspired everyone in attendance. Just their presence served as vivid reminders of the important role the West End House plays in lives and communities well beyond the City of Boston.
The stated fundraising goal of $22 million is an ambitious endeavor but attainable. In fact, more than $20 million of the goal has been realized but there is still much work to be done. Shawmut Design and Construction has recently broken ground on a on a brand, new state of the art performance space as well as a full facility renovation to rebalance the House to meet existing program growth and goals.
For West End House alumnus and current UMass Dartmouth senior, Elin, the fundraising efforts mean more than just money. He sees it as a powerful investment in lives like his. Elin shared his journey with the audience and the enormous role the West End House played in his development. He recalled his family coming to America from Nepal when he was 4 years old and the many sacrifices his parents made to give him a better life. When he started at the club in the fourth grade he had no idea it would become like a second home to him for the next 8 years. Elin spoke eloquently about time studying in the education center, learning to play the guitar in the teen center, earning a prestigious scholarship and fellowship and interning at City Hall. It was the small moments, however, that resonated with him like interacting with staff, sharing a laugh with friends or resolving a conflict. Elin credits the West End House for not only giving him lifelong memories but also valuable tools he can use forever. He said, “What the Club gave me was a blueprint for success. It gave me the skills, opportunities, and networks to be able to navigate a complicated and messy society.” Further commenting on the coming improvements he continued, “I am excited about the renovation, and the new construction. What I’m more excited about is the community that will fill the new space and feet that will run up and down those new steps. It is a new space that so many kids can call home.”
The 1,500 kids currently calling the West End House home rely on the facilities and services that would not otherwise be available to them. Programs like academic and college preparatory programs, fitness and nutrition, leadership and career development and visual and performing arts are crucial difference makers in these kids’ lives. Among club members, 98% of high school seniors graduated on time and 98% of those students enrolled in higher education. The West End House has the only full-time college coaching program among Boys & Girls Clubs in New England and is one of only a handful of clubs nationwide to offer this impactful program. When you consider that just one thousand dollars means that a club member can access college coaching for a year, it’s easy to see why every donation counts.
As generous donations poured in from individuals and corporate partners like the New Balance Foundation an electric atmosphere was created in the room. Although the motto of the West End House is “Expect More” the money raised at the Annual Celebration exceeded all expectations. As one of the premier youth development programs in the country, the West End House is committed to meeting the needs of the youth it serves.
Andrew Musto, reflecting on the efforts of so many and the bright future of the West End House, said, “The staff, volunteers, and our young people are expecting more of each other and themselves. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, the West End House has become a destination for success and is recognized as one of the premier youth development agencies in the nation. Our Annual Celebration is our showcase and the fundraising success is evidence. I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with such a life-changing program!”