Author Angie

Last week, we were finally able to host a revised version of our Be You Wellness Day! Our kids were able to participate in activities meant to improve their health including yoga, cooking, painting and crafts. Each attendee also signed a pledge to take something they learned and put it into practice. Thank you to the Kent County Medical Alliance Society Foundation for their generous support of our Be You Wellness Day!

Photos by: Kymara Stevenson

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We are thrilled to announce we have received a grant of $40,944 from The Children’s Foundation to implement the new Be You Wellness Program!

The Be You Wellness Program will train staff on how to better support youth struggling with mental health, train youth on ways to manage stress, and allow a master’s-level social work intern on-site to provide therapeutic support to youth. The goals for this project are to increase awareness of mental health needs and treatment among staff and Club members, teach young people how to better manage stress and advocate for their mental health needs, and improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of Club members.

Mental health conditions are the leading cause of health problems among youth and it is estimated that only 20% of youth with a mental health condition receive treatment. This is problematic given that poor mental health is strongly correlated with numerous other health concerns and lower educational achievements. Our role is to help support children in overcoming these kinds of adversities by providing education and services, and we are working to place more attention on the mental health needs of children in the community because of the strong causal relationship between poor mental and physical health and long-term negative effects.

“We are so grateful to the Children’s Foundation for this incredible grant,” said Patrick Placzkowski, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. “We really expect our kids will be coming out of the COVID-19 shutdown with lots of added stress. If we can do things now to help these kids to develop ways to reduce stress and anxiety, it’s going to have benefits 20, 30, 40 years down the road.”

In this project, staff will be trained by Whole Child, Inc., an organization working to limit the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on mental, physical, and emotional health. The trainings from Whole Child will help staff understand the impact of ACEs on the youth they serve, strengthen staff members’ capacities to handle personal stressors, and teach staff ways to model stress management strategies to youth. Further, teenage Club members will also have the opportunity to engage with Whole Child to learn stress management skills and self-regulation behaviors, as well as strategies to mentor younger children on these skills.

Additionally, we have partnered with Grand Valley State University to create an internship placement for master’s-level social work students. The intern will work directly with kids at all three of our locations to provide support where it is needed most.

The grant will provide funding for the trainings, leadership coordination, consultation fees for intern supervisor, and supplies for therapeutic activities.

In the News:

Interview with Shelley Irwin at WGVU

WOODTV 8 Story

Fox 17 Morning Mix

Fox 17 Morning News

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This month, local families in need will have access to more than 4,000 free meals due to a partnership between Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids (BGCGR) and MedExpress Urgent Care, a neighborhood medical center.

Starting May 18, MedExpress will sponsor BGCGR’s meal service to provide local families access to free, fresh, hot dinners to help mitigate food insecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. BGCGR is also providing dinner delivery to Club families who do not have access to transportation or who are unable to otherwise make it to the Club.

“The Boys and Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids understands the importance of supporting parents and caregivers by helping with essentials like food and basic household items,” said Patrick Placzkowski, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. “Thanks to support from MedExpress, we’re able to provide some stability during this difficult time by continuing to feed families in and around Grand Rapids.”

MedExpress will also provide families with activity boxes that include kid-friendly projects and supplies like sidewalk chalk, crayons, jump rope and activity sheets to help children stay physically and mentally active during the shelter-at-home order.

“We know that there are those in our communities who need a little extra support right now,” said Emily Reinbold, Director of Communications, Community and Company Initiatives, MedExpress. “We’re here to help make sure our local families have what they need to stay safe and healthy, which includes having access to warm meals.”  

Thank you, MedExpress!

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On Tuesday, March 10, nearly 300 people filled the room at our 2020 Youth of the Year Luncheon to support our four candidates – Larissa Clay, Dymond Cummings, Marvin Johnson and Myaja Dunning. These young people all did an amazing job over the past few months preparing essays and speeches, and sharing their stories with hundreds of supporters.

We proudly announced our 2020 Youth of the Year winner… Myaja Dunning!

The luncheon raised more than $60,000 to go toward programming and other important needs at our Clubs. We couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of support to provide kids in our community a safe place to go after school where they can get the support, encouragement and resources they need to reach their full potential.

Thank you to our sponsors: Lake Michigan Credit Union, Meijer, First National Bank of Michigan, Kitchen 67, Redi Rental, Eastern Floral, Malone IT, and Studio Phrene.
Thank you to our judges: Don Bratt, Brenda Duong, Monica Sparks and Trey Conner.
Also thank you to the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation for their generous matching challenge gift, and to Monica Sparks for her keynote speech!

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Larissa Clay

  • Sophomore at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 5 years
  • Interested in a career as a pediatrician

“To me, the Boys & Girls Club means support. I am supported by the staff and my friends when I’m at the Club. After coming to Steil for so long I feel more comfortable and I am able to be more involved. The Steil Club has become my home away from home. There are chances for homework help, plenty of new opportunities, and a place for relationships to grow.”

Dymond Cummings

  • Freshman at Kellogsville High School
  • Seidman Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a dance choreographer

“It’s been eight years since I first stepped foot in a Boys & Girls Club. Since I’ve been attending the Boys & Girls Club, I have built relationships with the staff. I have participated in various club activities and I have even and I have even had several leadership roles. I will be telling you about my experience within the club and how those experiences have shaped me into the person I am.”

Myaja Dunning

  • Freshman at Kent Innovation High School
  • Paul I. Phillips Club
  • Member for 7 years
  • Interested in a career as a OBGYN sonographer

“The Boys & Girls Club is very important to me because this is a safe place for all kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan to come to get out of dangerous neighborhoods. When I say dangerous neighborhoods, I mean bad friend groups, gangs, drug abuse, and homelessness. The Boys & Girls Clubs have changed me because if I did not have the support system that I have with my Mother and the Boys & Girls, I don’t know where I would be at the age of 14 years old.”

Marvin Johnson

  • Freshman at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a business owner

“Spending eight years of my life attending the Club has changed me in many ways. Because of the Club, I have grown from a mischievous eight-year-old to an entrepreneurial leader and an advocate against bullying, and I have a place to do all of that, safely, with my friends.” 

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In this season of Thanksgiving, our Club Members share what they are thankful for.

We are thankful for all of our Club Members, and for our wonderful community of supporters who enable us to provide kids in our community with a safe place to learn, grow and reach their full potential.

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If you are 70½ years old or older, you can take advantage of a simple way to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth and receive tax benefits in return. You can give up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to a qualified charity such as ours without having to pay income taxes on the money. This popular gift option is commonly called the IRA charitable rollover, but you may also see it referred to as a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD for short.

Why Consider This Gift?

  • Your gift will be put to use today, allowing you to see the difference your donation is making.
  • You pay no income taxes on the gift. The transfer generates neither taxable income nor a tax deduction, so you benefit even if you do not itemize your deductions.
  • If you have not yet taken your required minimum distribution for the year, your IRA charitable rollover gift can satisfy all or part of that requirement.

Now is the perfect time to consider an IRA charitable rollover as part of your year-end giving. Please contact Angie Stumpo at 616-233-9370 x111 or if you would like more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I’m turning age 70½ in a few months. Can I make this gift now?
A. No. The legislation requires you to reach age 70½ by the date you make the gift.

Q. I have several retirement accounts—some are pensions and some are IRAs. Does it matter which retirement account I use?
A. Yes. Direct rollovers to a qualified charity can be made only from an IRA. Under certain circumstances, however, you may be able to roll assets from a pension, profit sharing, 401(k) or 403(b) plan into an IRA and then make the transfer from the IRA directly to The Rotary Foundation. To determine if a rollover to an IRA is available for your plan, speak with your plan administrator.

Q. Can my gift be used as my required minimum distribution under the law?
A. Yes, absolutely. If you have not yet taken your required minimum distribution, the IRA charitable rollover gift can satisfy all or part of that requirement. Contact your IRA custodian to complete the gift.

Q. Do I need to give my entire IRA to be eligible for the tax benefits?
A. No. You can give any amount under this provision, as long as it is $100,000 or less this year. If your IRA is valued at more than $100,000, you can transfer a portion of it to fund a charitable gift.

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The school year is in full swing, and so are our Clubs! Whether your child has been a member for years or this is their first opportunity, we are ready to provide them with a safe, fun and welcoming place to come after school. Our Club isn’t just a location your child spends an hour or two. It’s where they can find their unlimited potential, surrounded by strong mentors who believe in them.

We put together a few FAQ’s with all the info you need to know about your child becoming a Club Member. If we missed anything, please feel to call us at 616.233.9370 or email us at

WHO can become a member? We welcome all children in 1st grade through 12th grade.

HOW MUCH does it cost? Memberships are only $5 per year.

WHERE are you located? We have three club locations in Grand Rapids. Transportation is available from select elementary schools to the Clubs. Contact us to learn more.

  • Steil Club – 235 Straight Ave NW
  • Paul I. Phillips Club – 726 Madison Ave SE
  • Seidman Club – 139 Crofton SE

WHEN are you open? We are open Monday-Friday from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm (8:00 pm for teens) during the school year. We are closed for school holidays and when GRPS schools close for inclement weather. We are also open in the summer from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. We host monthly Teen Nights and Family Nights. Our calendar is always up to date with our hours and events.

WHAT do kids do while at the Club? Along with providing a FUN and safe environment, we have a variety of programming geared toward enabling all of our members to become the best they can be. We offer activities geared toward our five youth development pillars: Education, the Arts, Character and Leadership, Healthy Lifestyles and Sports and Recreation. We serve snacks and meals each day. In addition, Club Members enjoy opportunities for field trips, unique experiences and college scholarships.

WHY join Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids? Other than having fun and learning new things, below are some of the top ways being a Boys & Girls Club member can benefit your child:

  • Club Kids Have Better Outcomes
    For more than 80 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids have changed and saved young lives during the out-of-school time. We want every child in Grand Rapids to be in a safe, constructive environment when they are not at home or in school. We provide that safe haven for more than 2,500 youth every year.

  • Clubs Help Teens Graduate from High School Prepared for a Great Future
    Each year, 1 out of 6 students fails to graduate from high school on time. Ensuring that every Club member graduates from high school on time with a solid plan for their future is of the highest priority for Boys & Girls Clubs. We offer homework help, tutoring, educational enrichment and college preparation programs designed to support young people’s academic achievement.

  • Clubs Foster Good Character and Citizenship
    Throughout more than a century of existence, Boys & Girls Clubs have worked to foster young people’s integrity and good character, their ability to make positive life choices, their belief that they can bring about positive change in their communities, and their compassion and willingness to serve others.

  • Clubs Help Kids Lead Healthy Lifestyles and Avoid Risky Behaviors
    Clubs play an important role in providing a safe space to exercise, compete in team sports and establish lifelong friendships. Teens who stay involved in a Club are more likely than their peers to have healthy habits, including being physically active and abstaining from risky behaviors.
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Patrick Placzkowski

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Following a six-month national search, Patrick Placzkowski has been chosen to lead the Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids, which serves more than 2,500 youths each year and includes facilities throughout the city and Camp O’Malley in Alto.  

“Patrick brings a wealth of leadership experience to the Boys & Girls Club that will enable the organization to perform at its highest level,” said Dustin Hopkins, Chair of the Board of Directors.  “I speak for the entire board when I say that we could not have found a better leader to guide us through these challenging times for mission-driven organizations that rely so heavily on the generosity of the communities they serve.”

Placzkowski earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and his master’s degree from the University of Illinois – Urbana.  He was recruited in 2012 by Van Andel Institute to lead their fundraising initiatives as their Director of Development.  Prior to that, he was with the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, DC.  

“The Boys & Girls Club, in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department, serves a large underserved population of youths.  Through mentoring, coaching, and structured activities, these kids are provided a safe and healthy environment in which to explore and pursue their talents and ambitions,” said Placzkowski.  “My job is to ensure that every child who passes through our door will trust us with helping him or her achieve their hopes and dreams. That’s our mission.”

About Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids:  Our mission is to enable all young people to reach their full potential as responsible citizens through education, recreation, and positive community experiences in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department.

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