By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region this week celebrated an odyssey that began in the basement of the Laconia Community Center in 1999 and through the efforts of volunteers and generosity of donors ended in 2014 at St, James Episcopal Church, where Scott Knowles, chairman of the advisory committee, said “we have our forever home and the kids have their forever home as well.”
Al Posnack recalled the nomadic meanderings of the club, which originated as “a safe, supervised place for middle school and high school students during after-school hours” in the wake of the tragic death of Robbie Mills at the hands of two boys who wanted his bicycle. From the Community Center the club moved to Sacred Heart Parish, then Lady of the Lakes Church, then to the Federal Building before seizing the opportunity to purchase its own home.
“We were wandering the desert for a long time,” Posnack said. “We looked everywhere and never stopped looking with help from everyone and from everywhere before we landed in the promised land.” Close to the middle school, a park and even a lake, he described the location as “ideal.” At the same time, he said that with 17,000 square feet of space, that includes a gymnasium, multi-purpose room, institutional kitchen and classrooms, the building serves all the needs and expands the capacity of the club, which is positioned to grow for years to come.
Posnack said that the acquisition and renovation of the church “unleashed the passions of people throughout the community” and expressed thanks a lll those — private individuals, civic organizations and local business — who contributed to the success of the project. He stressed that the club carries no mortgage on the property and said “thanks to the community. We own this place free and clear. It’s really about how many people contributed,” he continued, “not just about how much they gave.”
Paul Gaudet paid tribute to the late Tony and Gladys Sakowich, a couple without children themselves, whose contribution to the club is memorialized by a plaque at the main entrance. He said that their commitment and vision helped not only to find the club a home but also to secure its future by establishing an endowment, which, with a donation of $150,000 from Bank of New Hampshire, is fast approaching $1 million. Gaudet said that the endowment places the club on a solid financial footing while the income it generates will offset a share of operating expenses. Moreover, he noted that when the club merged with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire the terms of the relationship ensure the endowment will be applied as originally intended to the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region.
Chris Emond, executive director of the Buys and Girls Club of Central New Hampshire addresses the crowd gathered to celebrate the new home of the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region on North Main Street. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
With a $150,000 donation from Bank of New Hampshire the endowment of the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region has neared $1 million. Maddy McLelln, Youth of the Year (center) and Paul Gaudet (left) accept the check from Paul Falvey, president and chief executive officer of the bank (second from left) and Barry Leonard, executive vice president, and Mary Mattson, senior vice president. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)
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