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Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs: Flourishing this Summer

Oct 21, 2023Oct 21, 2023

By Judy Carmack Bross

When the Cubs and the Cardinals take their rivalry to London in June to play at London's soccer stadium built for the 2012 Olympics, two lucky fans of the Chicago Boy's and Girl's Clubs will have premier seats, then an evening at the ABBA Voyage Concert featuring the band's biggest hits. This auction homerun proves once again that the clubs’ Woman's Board forever flourishes in fundraising for the almost 20,000 youths enrolled on their programs. The title Flourish for the 2023 Gala June 2 couldn't be more apt.

Cece and Tom Ricketts and Mark and Robin Tebbe at a past Boy's & Girl's Summer Ball.

Colette Smithburg Jacky Ferro and Tayna Polsky and Jenni Sorenson. xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx

Jacky Ferro and CeCe Ricketts, co-chairs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago's Woman's Board told us about the Summer Ball at the Theater on the Lake, a new venue for the party.

Ferro, who has been on the Woman's Board for 20 years, said this year they opted for a different venue. "We have held the party at many hotels and our President Colette Smithburg encouraged us to create a new list. "

"We wanted an outdoor interlude and the Theater on the Lake is gorgeous," Cece Ricketts added. "Flourish implies flowers and outdoors but helping kids flourish is the deeper meaning. The party will have great music and amazing food—thanks to the menu planned by board stalwarts Virginia Bobbins and Jocelyn Stoller.

At the 2022 Gala: Betsy Bradley, Elizabeth Cole, Susan Canman, Beth Hughes, Karen McEniry, Shawna Owen.

Serving youths ages 5 to 18, BGCC provides members with the emotional, educational, physical, and cultural resources that allow them to enjoy their childhood and thrive in adulthood. At the clubs they find caring mentors, avenues of opportunity and the tools they need to prepare for purposeful futures.

Colette and Tom Smithburg

Colette Smithburg told us:

"Today more than ever The Boys & Girls Club represents a necessary safe haven for thousands of young people, providing them the opportunity to discover their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. As a life long Chicagoan I couldn't be more honored to serve as President of the Woman's Board and continue this worthy tradition of philanthropy started by Mrs Charles Kittle in 1949. I am surrounded by incredibly competent, kind and generous women on this Board who are united in the quest to protect Chicago's youth."

Jacky Ferro grew up in Detroit, moving to Chicago after college graduation to become a Chicago public school teacher. "My passions have always involved children and education. I believe that education and positive role models can change the trajectory of a children's life. The after-school period can be a time of uncertainty and danger for a child if they do not have a safe place to go. BGCC provides that haven where students can get homework help, participate in athletics, and learn job skills."

Flourish Co-Chairs CeCe Ricketts and Jacky Ferro.

CeCe Ricketts grew up in Oak Park and River Forest. "My attention has always been focused on programs that benefit children. As a mother of five, I know the benefit of having positive things to do after school and being a member of a team. Having access to safe spaces where they can play sports or do homework with the support of caring adults will help kids move forward in life. I stopped practicing medicine as a dermatologist two years ago and decided to fill some of my time by becoming involved with the BGCC Woman's Board."

The Summer Ball celebrates at well the many BGCC summer offerings.

Summer fun for Boy's & Girl's Club campers.

Camp is a six to eight-week program that gives children a safe place to go during the summer months. For many families, Summer Camp can be out of reach due to high costs. BGCC offers an affordable camp option – even making it free to families who can't afford the reduced cost – that's not only fun, but offers educational activities and adventures to expand BGCC members’ horizons. Additionally, the kids that seek out the Club programs are those at greatest risk to suffer from summer learning loss. Studies show that most low-income youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation and reading skills over the summer months. BGCC's summer programs combat that learning loss by engaging youth in learning through discovery, creative expression and collaborative group work.

fun at the Boy's & Girl's Club's summer camps

Fun at the Boy's & Girl's Club's summer camps

Additionally, many teen members work at the Clubs during the summer. Through philanthropy and partnerships across the city these young leaders receive a stipend to work at the Clubs and participate in a variety of experiences. This is meant to insure that they are not placed in the difficult position of having to choose between meaningful summer experiences that build their skills and broaden their horizons and summer jobs that allow them to support their families. "It is especially wonderful to have our teens and leaders in the Club serve as mentors and role models to the younger members," Smithburg said.

Rendering of the Rusu-McCartin Club on the Westside.

Progress continues on the new Rusu-McCartin Club on the West Side. "Thanks to BEAR Construction, it is truly coming to life and beginning to look like the incredible beacon of hope and resource that the community desired. We are thrilled to share that the Club will be able to start serving young people with Summer Camp programming in early July. And, following that, we’ll celebrate the formal opening of this incredible Club with a ribbon cutting ceremony later this summer," Smithburg said.

As you anticipate Flourish June 2, enjoy more photos of past Summer Balls.

Elizabeth and Michael Cole at a previous Summer Ball

Colette Cachey Smithburg and Cathy Busch

For further information on Flourish, please visit: