1908 Stories and Community Impact

Your charitable gift changes lives

The Club’s 1908 Society is a recognition of the fact that recurring charitable gifts add up over time and have a big community impact. We know this of stories from Club alumni and outcomes data collected from existing Club members.

Deacon James Flint
St. Luke Missionary
Baptist Church

James Flint: Club success story

James and his family grew up on the west side of Rockford in the late 1960s. He and his brother loved playing basketball in the summer almost as much as they loved their mother. However, the Rockford winters weren’t kind to those wanting to play basketball.

One day in 1972, James’ Mom allowed his older brother to join the Club’s Downtown clubhouse facility located at the intersection of Walnut and Madison Streets. She figured this would give him an opportunity to play basketball indoors during the winter.

James clearly remembers that first day when his brother came home from the Club. “He was so excited,” James explained. “All he kept saying over and over again was ‘You missed it! You missed it!’ and I begged my Mom to let me join, too.

The following are just three of the many stories James likes to tell about the time he spent at the Club. We think these stories demonstrate the Club’s life-changing impact it had on Club members and subsequently the community at-large.

Story #1: Learning to take pride in what you do

It was very common for most Boys Clubs to have a woodshop, and the Rockford Club’s woodshop was one of the most popular program areas. It was where members learned how to start a project and how good it felt when they completed it.

One of the first things James remembers doing at the Club was spending time in the woodshop.

Carl Peterson, the woodshop staff person, always started every Club member off with a “duck cutout project.”  The objective of this initial woodworking project was to help members learn how to use the equipment.

James recalls making a Mother’s Day plaque to take home to his Mom as a gift. It simply said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” However, he fondly remembers Carl urging him to put his name on the back of the plaque and compared it to how artists sign their artwork. It was from projects like this one that James came to understand the importance of owning what you do and being proud of your efforts.

I felt like I was a professional craftsman after making that plaque,” Carl said.

Story #2: Father Figure, Club Director

Many of the kids who lived in and around James’ neighborhood came from single parent households. In most of those homes, it was a father figure that was missing. However, those who were lucky enough to belong to the Club, didn’t need to worry about it.

Jim Flodin did more than just play Santa. He and the staff helped Club members achieve academic success, live healthy lifestyles, and become good citizens.

Mr. Flodin was like a Dad to all of us,” James said. “He was an inspiration, cared about everybody, and was there for everyone.”

As the Club’s executive director, Mr. Flodin took it upon himself to play Santa Claus during the holidays.

In 1973, Santa went above and beyond the call of duty, and a bicycle appeared under the tree for James and his brother. This was the first bike the boys had ever owned. And in typical Club fashion, this was the gift that kept giving, which was typical of how the Club taught members valuable life lessons.

Not only did the brothers get to practice the important life skill of “sharing” (because it was the family’s only bike at the time), but James’ older brother also needed to teach him how to ride a bicycle.

This approach to youth development was the cornerstone of the Club experience “back in the day.” It remains that way today. Opportunities lead to lessons learned that build upon themselves, which lead to more opportunities and more lessons.

Story #3: James finds his calling and pays it forward

Staff have always been positive role models in Club members lives.

While Mr. Flodin was like a Dad in James’ life, it was the executive director’s assistant — John — who helped him find his passion and calling in life. And, of course, it came from experiences few people would’ve suspected.

Sometimes, members would get in trouble and misbehave at the Club,” James explained. “When this happened, John (Mr. Flodin’s assistant) would sit us down in the TV room and say ‘We’re going to talk it out. We’re not going to act it out.’ which I now look back upon and recognize as mentoring.

Today, James describes himself as a “mentor of young men,” of which he first learned as a young man at the Downtown clubhouse facility. As he looks back to his childhood many decades ago, and he sees many of today’s issues being similar — single parent households, racial tension, hopelessness and limited opportunities.

James feels called by his faith to take what he learned as a young man at the Club about “talking it out; not acting it out” and paying it forward to today’s younger generation. He does this through a formal mentoring program offered through his church — St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Rockford.

In the last six years, James and his fellow mentors have worked with more than 200 young people in a mentoring capacity, and none of them have joined a gang, gone to jail, or died.

National Club alumni survey demonstrates the impact of your charitable giving

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct research among its alumni. The results of that research demonstrate the impact your charitable giving.

Generations of Club alumni have grown up and had a significant impact on our community.
Impact on attitudes
  • 70% said, “I discovered subject areas I was interested in.”
  • 61% said, “I became more committed to my education.”
  • 51% said, “I achieved a higher level of education than I would have thought possible.”
  • 45% said, “The Club helped me graduate from high school.”
  • 97% said, “It is important to be a good citizen.”
  • 92% said, “Helping others is a priority of mine.”
  • 81% said, “My participation in the Club helped me develop a sense of responsibility to give back to my community.”
  • 75% said, “I am actively involved in my community.”
More recent Club alumni are still working hard and having an impact on our community.
Impact of Club staff on members
  •  85% said, “The staff helped me know right from wrong.”
  • 82% said, “The staff helped me develop self confidence
  • 77% said, “The staff helped me learn good leadership skills.”
  • 67% said, “The staff helped me learn the ability to avoid difficulty with the law.”
Impact of the Club on alumni adult lives
  • 84% said, “Participating in the Club had a favorable impact on my family.”
  • 78% said, “Belonging to the Club really kept me out of trouble.”
  • 57% said, “Participating in the Club really saved my life.”

While today’s youth face many challenges, Boys & Girls Club of Rockford (BGCR) continues its 112-year tradition of offering proven solutions that work.  The Club provides youth with daily, guidance-oriented character development programs, firmly establishing a reputation as “The Positive Place for Kids.”

BGCR’s mandate is clear: Build upon this success to reach out and serve more youth.  Our community’s future depends on it.