The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego (BGCGSD) kicked off its 75th Anniversary celebration with a book release event and the premiere of the clubs’ new anniversary website at SDYouth75.org on February 20 at the William J. Oakes Branch in Logan Heights. Author Marilyn Campbell, prominent alumni featured in the book, current Club members, BGCGSD staff and Board members attended the event.
“Against The Grain” tells the story of the urgent need San Diego had for a Club, the herculean efforts to establish it in the 1940s and the difference the Club has made in thousands of lives for 75 years. Seventy-five years ago, in an era of oppressive discrimination, a determined group established the Boys Club of San Diego, providing disadvantaged boys of diverse ethnicities a place to call their own and the guidance and support to become some of the greatest athletes and leaders San Diego has ever produced.
BGCGSD President Danny Sherlock opened the proceedings with the statement, “We have been changing lives for 75 years and it all began right here.” Sherlock then introduced Oakes Branch Alumni Association President A.C. Mills to share his thoughts about the book and what it meant to be a Club kid. “We have a great thing happening here at the Club. The same things that were important back in the day to help kids be better people and to prepare them for their future are still relevant today. We have to keep the Club going on,” said Mills.
Current Club youth Isaac Guerrero thanked the alumni and the organization for keeping it going, saying he looks forward to being back for the 100th anniversary of the Club.
To conclude the ceremony, Mills, current BGCGSD Board Chair Dan Kotnik and BGCGSD South Regional Manager Connie Alvarez cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new display case, which features news clipping and archives from the Club’s history.
This is a timely topic, with echoes from history resurfacing again in today’s world. To educate our youth about the history of the Club and life in the 1940’s, a copy of the book has been provided to all of the middle and high schools in the San Diego Unified School District.