There are some stories that make you proud to be part of a community, giving you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside—this is one of those stories. It takes place at the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area, a treasured local nonprofit organization that helps young people realize their full potential with programs, events and excursions that are meant to enrich and inspire. When the club needed transportation in order to take their young members on outings outside of Bellport, they got more than they bargained for when a generous donor and the community at large sprang to action to help them meet their goal and beyond.
As explained by Lisa Anderson, president, board of directors, the story begins in August 2021 when a would-be donor toured the club’s facilities and learned about their need for transportation. The would-be donor was inspired by the club’s mission and decided to buy the club a minivan on one condition: that the club raise enough money to buy another van.
What comes next is a true example of community spirit. The club asked the community for support, and subsequently raised $20,000 over their goal. They’ll use the excess money to pay for things the vehicles need.
“So now we have a fund where we can pay for maintenance and insurance,” said Anderson.
The vans have not been purchased yet, but the club plans to buy them within the next few weeks. They’ll likely buy a Ford 15 passenger van—that’s the largest passenger-size vehicle they can buy without requiring the driver to have a special license. They’re doing that so the staff and executive director can drive the young members on excursions themselves.
Anderson said she looks forward to eventually joining the youth for an excursion aboard one of the new vans. She said that going on class trips was one of her favorite things about growing up on Long Island, and that she looks forward to doing that with this group of young people.
“To see kids experiencing new things is always a joy,” she said. “I grew up here and my favorite thing to do was go on school trips. We went to Watch Hill; we went to the Maritime Museum; we went to the South Shore beaches. I look forward to being able to do that again with this new generation of kids.”
Frederick Combs, interim chief executive officer, thanked those who donated and commented on what the contributions will allow the club to do.
“A sincere thank you to our thoughtful and generous contributors who fully grasp the limitless value in enhancing the experiences of our youth in this ever-changing and challenging world. We look forward to taking the kids on many fun-filled as well as educational trips,” he said.
Michael Mullaney, past president, echoed Combs’s sentiments, and commented that the vans would allow the children to travel not only throughout Long Island, but also into New York City as a means of cultural enrichment.
“Our many thanks to this donor and the donations from our local community. We are thrilled at the prospect of having adequate transportation to allow our members the opportunity to take full advantage of our local resources—our beaches and parks, local colleges, Brookhaven National Lab, the YMCA, town and county facilities, and rich cultural opportunities in New York City. Additionally, we now have the means to provide outreach and service to many youths living in our surrounding communities,” he added.
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