By Steve Sears
When it comes to a Boys and Girls club, one thing is certain. You know what it strives to do is provide something positive for the youths in the town it serves and extend that provision to the rest of the respective community as well.
That’s indeed what the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest New Jersey is all about. The Wayne location is at 153 Garside Avenue, Pequannock at 19 Oak Avenue. The former began in 1970, the latter in 1993. The Pequannock group chartered with BGCA as Boys & Girls Club of Morris County, and in 2005 the Wayne and Morris County Clubs entered a Management Agreement, eventually merging to form the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest New Jersey in September 2006.
Joe Lynch is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest New Jersey. “We serve children from many neighboring towns. Specifically, we offer after school programs in Prospect Park, Pompton Lakes, Wanaque, Haskell and we bus kids from Lincoln Park to Pequannock,” he says. His CEO chores keep him busy. “I have had the fortune to serve in my current role since 1996 and began my career in Wayne as the Athletic Director in 1992. We have a small but energetic and highly qualified full-time staff of 20 professionals that help lead the charge in serving over 5200 children across Northwest New Jersey. I also report to a board of Directors comprised of leaders in our communities that give of their time to help set the policies and ensure the financial well-being of the organization.”
One change that has happened since 1970 is the mission statement, which was altered in 2006 to mirror that of the National Organization which is “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.”
The Wayne Club house has a variety of educational and athletic options for its members. Members ages will range from 6 weeks to 18years old! Our younger members have access to our Early Enrichment Program as well as our Little Panthers athletic program that runs concurrently year-round and serves children aged 3, 4 and 5.
Dan Dipsey, who is the Unit Director in Wayne, and he proudly explains how they serve the community. “Our Kindergarten Enrichment and After School program offers its services to all Wayne public Elementary and Middle Schools. With monthly themed activities, incentivized homework help, a variety of cooking, yoga and dance classes there is never a dull moment here at the Club. The BGCNWNJ also serves the community of Prospect Park, offering a Before and After Care program at School 1. The BGCNWNJ also offers an array of athletic programs per season. “We just wrapped up Volleyball, Sensible Soccer, Football, Cheerleading and Fall Basketball,” says Dipsey. “We are currently accepting registration for our Recreational Basketball league, Little Panthers as well as Floor Hockey. Some sports offered later in the calendar year are Indoor Soccer, Field Hockey, Softball, Volleyball League and much more.”
Another key component of the club’s offerings is Teen Character youth group for 14-18year old members called the Keystone Club, which has 4 elements: Academic Success, Career Preparation, Community Service and Teen Recruitment. “Year round,” says Dipsey, “our Keystone Club teens run/host events in each of the areas listed above.” He also adds that the Keystone Club helps out in township hosted events, like the annual Turkey Race event, Easter Egg hunt, and the Junior Olympics, and help out whenever called upon. “The Parks and Recreation Department have been amazing with their ability to keep our teens busy and on the right path!”
With an eye towards the future, Lynch explains past changes and improvements, and what’s in the planning. “We have made many improvements to our facilities over the years. In 1998 we added a 10,000 square foot gym in Wayne due to a large increase in enrollment. In 2008 we added a four-classroom day care in Wayne which serves nearly 80 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 4 years old. We added a teaching kitchen in Wayne in 2017 while also adding a $40,000 playground in Pequannock. We also removed the old Pequannock school this past spring. This is just the beginning phase to what we hope will be a newly renovated clubhouse there with a new Gym and educational space for the community.”
Dipsey also mentions a few upcoming events for this special time of year. “We are hosting a ‘Giving Tree’ event that will help needy families in Wayne. Each year we partner up with a Wayne Elementary School in order to put on the best event and help the
most people possible. This year we are collecting for nearly 50 families in town.”
Elizabeth Campbell joined the Boys & Girls Club as an employee recently, and she wishes to trumpet another big event, this one planned for 2019. “I began with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest New Jersey in mid-August. I handle fundraising, special events, marketing, and public relations. Our next big event is our upcoming 21st Annual Dinner Dance, which will be held March 8, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the Westmount Country Club.”
As with Lynch, Dipsey’s eyes are towards the future as well. “With major additions in the works for our Pequannock Club, we in Wayne want to do our part and increase membership and expand programing for the members of our community. We always want to add supplemental programing to increase the quality of our programs. In this fast-changing environment, we hope to be a place that members can still feel cared for while having a little fun along the way.”
For more information, visit the website at www.bgcnwnj.org, or call 973-956-0033.