Kindness is the Greatest Wisdom

FallNewsletter_Volunteer2In the Valparaiso Club’s Gamesroom, you can find volunteer Dominic Snemis sitting at a game table with three, four, and sometimes five Club members crowded around him. What are they doing? Playing simple – yet fun board games that help youth with their cognitive abilities.

“I like spending time with the Club members. Even though I am providing volunteer time, I am actually getting a lot more from the Club kids. I think I am learning as much from them as they are from me.” Dominic is a student at Purdue University who visits the Valparaiso Club twice a week during the summer months. For his pharmacy application, service hours are required. “When I received the opportunity to choose which organization I could volunteer, I wanted to give back to the same Club where I started playing sports.”

If you are interested in volunteering at one of our Clubs, contact the Club directly. You can also visit to learn more about what volunteer positions we have available.


1st Source Bank Helping to Build Great Futures and a New Club

DSC04430As the clock struck 2:30 PM, Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County’s Duneland Club already was bustling with lots of kids and different after-school activities. However, Club members were a little more excited this particular afternoon because of a special visit from some very caring guests. Matt Vessely, regional president and Tricia Lahey, assistant vice president and branch manager of 1st Source Bank, made a personal trip to the Club to deliver an important gift – $25,000 toward helping to build a new Duneland Club!

“Our Club members love to have visitors,” states Ryan Smiley, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County. “It is important for our youth to share what they are doing at the Club with others. They like to tell visitors all the new things they are learning, the programs they are participating in, and the friends they making. In essence, our youth love to share their personal Club experience with others. Our members know their new Club is on the horizon, and they are more than enthusiastic to meet with people and companies that want to help make the dream of their new Club become a reality.”

1st Source Bank is a long time investor in Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, but they went the extra-mile by contributing to the construction and enhancement of the new Duneland Club. As academics and art are very important to 1st Source Bank, the priority that Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County places on academic success and how art is infused into their afterschool programming, giving toward a new Duneland Club is natural fit for 1st Source Bank.

“The academic success of our Club members extends beyond the school day,” states Smiley. “In fact, when surveyed, 70% of our Club members report that they don’t skip school and 65% report that they have aspirations to attend college after graduating from high school. 1st Source Bank’s gift of $25,000 will help us build new ‘classrooms’ in our Club allowing us to provide more tutoring space, an area for our STEM programming, or a state-of-the-art computer lab where children can explore and learn more – and continue to create positive outcomes regarding their academic success.”

”1st Source Bank is pleased to make this $25,000 contribution to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County,” said Vessely. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact the new Duneland Club will have on so many children in our area.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County’s Duneland Club’s Capital Campaign has reached 78% of its $4 million goal “We are so close to having this new Club for the youth and families of Chesterton. Our groundbreaking is on the horizon, and we look forward to bringing this new and expanded Club to the community,” states Smiley.


South Haven Club Member, Vince, Attends National Digital Arts Festival

Vince produced the song, “My Life,” as part of the Digital Arts Festival. After winning national recognition, he was honored by attending the National Digital Arts Festival in San Diego. Vince was able to tour Sony Electronics headquarters and even meet the President/COO of Sony.

“This California trip is out of this world! I can’t believe this is happing to me! I just thought the trip to California was plenty enough. I didn’t realize that I would be standing next to the President/COO of Sony and receiving recognition to this level. I’m having the time of my life!” stated Vince during his trip to San Diego.

Chesterton Family Receive First-Hand View of Their Positive Impact

Abbett FamilySchool is out for summer, but that didn’t slow the buzz of activity within Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County’s Duneland Club. In fact, there is a new sense of excitement among Club members and staff as they anticipate the groundbreaking for the renovation and expansion of their building! Officially launched to the public, Duneland Capital Campaign also is creating great excitement within the Chesterton community. This effort, raising nearly $3 million of its $4 million campaign goal, is credited to many donors who are committed to making the vision of the Duneland Club a reality.

One such family, catching this excitement of providing a “new” Club for the children of Chesterton, includes Mark and Kim Abbett and their four children. The Abbett family made a significant gift toward the campaign – but their interest in Boys & Girls Clubs as a valuable community resource goes much further than their bighearted investment. On June 15, 2015 – the Abbett Family visited to the Club to witness the true impact their generosity is making on the lives of Children.

Welcomed by Club member, Skyler, the Abbetts received a most enthusiastic tour by a little girl who can’t wait for her “new” Club taking a precious moment to show Kim Abbett the color plans for the additions to the building.

As the tour progressed, the Abbett family was greeted by walls covered in artwork created by members, a computer lab filled with children who know all about Internet safety thanks to the NetSmartz program, a gymnasium with healthy and physical fitness activities taking place, a learning center with youth engaged in Summer Brain Gain lessons, and a Teen Room where older Club members have a space to call their own.

“Our Duneland Club is brimming with children just full of potential – and the Abbett family knows this. Their commitment to the new Club goes beyond the walls of our renovated building; it stretches into the future because our “new” Club will continue to be a place of hope and opportunity for many generations of children. For this, we are grateful for their willingness to share their treasure, and the interest they have on the successful development of our Club members,” states Ryan Smiley, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County.

The visit ended with the Abbett’s four children participating in an art room project where they made colorful jellyfish out of Styrofoam bowls, paints, and colorful yarn and a family picture in front of the Club’s marquee thanking this amazing family for caring.

“When we visited and walked into the Club, we immediately saw the need for more space. Kids were just filling the hallways. The programs are amazing, and any child would benefit from being part of the Club. What impressed us most were the wonderful children and their stories. Those kids are the future of Porter County, and we are happy to be part of it,” stated Kim Abbett.

SMART Moves – Profiling a Proven Program During National Boys & Girls Club Week

SMART Moves. These are two words often heard within a Boy & Girls Clubs setting – but what does this actually mean? Ask any of our Club members and they will tell you about a myriad of different fun activities, but activities that talk about subjects that are very serious in nature. The ‘SMART’ in our SMART Moves program stands for Skills Mastery and Resistance Training. Simply, this education program focuses on prevention addressing problems that many youth face such as drug and alcohol use and premature sexual activity.

“The ultimate goal of our SMART Moves program is to promote abstinence from substance abuse and adolescent sexual involvement through the practice of responsible behavior,” states Ryan Smiley, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County. “The safety and healthy well-being of our Club members is our top priority,” says Smiley. ArcelorMittal agrees. In fact, ArcelorMittal has been funding this program for Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County for many years.

“SMART Moves dovetails nicely into the priorities of our corporation,” says Jolice Pojeta, corporate responsibility and communication manager. “At ArcelorMittal, we focus on the safety and health of our employees – and we do the same for our communities. This is very important to ArcelorMittal, our corporate culture and our philanthropic philosophy.”

So why does SMART Moves work? It provides our Club members with a forum to talk about sometimes uncomfortable subjects or situations with a trained professional. It also is a highly interactive program encouraging youth to be SMART about their future by taking personal inventories and setting goals, asking the question of “Am I making the right decision?,” by focusing on resisting outside forces such as negative peer pressure, bullying and media influences. SMART Moves also allows youth to discuss true friendships and how to maintain them as well as “getting  real” on how drugs and alcohol can harm a person’s health.  The best part of SMART Moves is the tools Club members gain in staying SMART. This is accomplished through a team approach involving Club staff, peer leaders, parents and community representatives where active discussions and role-playing strengthen the decision-making skills of our youth.

Interested in learning more about SMART Moves, registering your child to participate, or serving as a volunteer for the program? Call (219) 464-7282!


DSC01394Life Lessons Taught Through Chess

One definition of character may be described as strength and originality in a person’s nature. This is also the perfect fitting of Dr. Howard.

For 19 years, Dr. Howard has participated with the Boys & Girls Club Movement. Seven of these years with the Duneland Club. At 91 years of age, Dr. Howard relates well with children and has a way of teaching Club members valuable life lessons simply by playing chess with them at the Club.

“Chess is a game of skill. It teaches kids to be observant,” states Dr. Howard. “It also teaches children to stick to rules as you have to stick to rules in life. There is excitement when you play. When you win, you feel good. When you lose, you had the joy of playing, while learning a valuable lesson. Chess teaches the fundamentals of life.”

Dr. Howard notices that as kids spend more time at the Clubs they become less shy and more assertive in their leadership abilities. At the Club, they no longer stand off to the side by themselves, but slowly start to open up and make new friends.

In 1995, Dr. Howard was instrumental in opening the Anacortes Boys & Girls Club in Washington. He is one of many who realized that a safe place for kids is needed. Within a month, the Club had 100 members and continued to grow.

“Volunteering at the Club gives me the chance to interact with kids. It keeps me young,” states the vibrant 91 year old.

When asked if he always wins at chess, he firmly said no. However, several kids in the room disagreed. Dr. Howard has a way of making every child smile when they see him and he is never shy to return the favor.

“I’m very fortunate to be accepted here.”


Want to be the one to make a difference? Visit our volunteer page to learn more.

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