By Karim Shamsi-Basha
The A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club has a long history of serving youths in the Birmingham area, and its future is brighter than ever.
When philanthropist and businessman Gaston opened the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club in Birmingham in 1967, his mission was to empower the young people in the community and give them a place where they can be mentored and challenged to be productive citizens.
That vision has proved solid and true. Today, the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club has taught thousands of children that important message.
“If you look at how kids develop today, it’s all based around technology,” CEO Frank Adams Jr. said. “Technology has been a huge tool in getting kids to understand that the world is much larger than they thought in the past.”
The club will soon enjoy a new building next to the Birmingham CrossPlex in the Five Points West neighborhood. The new space is modern, with the latest technology and facilities for fun and learning.
“We have operated out of our old clubhouse since the ‘90s. While that was a wonderful opportunity in the Birmingham area, a few years ago we began discussions with our board about moving into a new space,” Adams said. “We were thinking big about what we could do for this community.”
The new location puts A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club in the center of an active neighborhood.
“Five Points West has always been a vibrant part of Birmingham’s social scene and it’s also an area where young people and their families like to work and play,” Adams said. “This area is perfect for our club. We wanted a ‘village center’ concept.”
The children pay $8 a year to participate in the many programs the club offers, while the actual cost per child is nearly $1,000 per year. The club and its staff enrich the lives of the young ones in health and nutrition, character and leadership, education, art, music, sports and recreation.
Adams is proof of the program’s impact. He attended the club when he was young.
“I know personally what this club means to the children we serve. I was a club kid myself,” he said. “Everything we’re doing now is centered around providing that same mentorship I received. We see every day the transformation that kids have when you challenge and empower them. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than getting to experience this every day.”
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at firstname.lastname@example.org.