Boys & Girls Clubs of America: A National Story

For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs has been helping kids reach their full potential.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America had its beginnings in 1860 with three women in Hartford, Conn.: Mary Goodwin, Alice Goodwin, and Elizabeth Hammersley. Believing that boys who roamed the streets should have a positive alternative, they organized the first Club. A cause was born.

History Highlights

In 1906, several Boys Clubs decided to affiliate. The Federated Boys Clubs in Boston was formed with 53 member organizations – this marked the start of a nationwide Movement and our national organization.

In 1931, the Boys Club Federation of America became Boys Clubs of America.

In 1956, Boys Clubs of America celebrated its 50th anniversary and received a U.S. Congressional Charter.

To recognize the fact that girls are a part of our cause, the national organization's name was changed to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1990. Accordingly, Congress amended and renewed our charter.

2006 marked the Centennial year of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as we celebrated 100 years of providing hope and opportunity to young people across the country.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County: A Local Story

In 1989, Hobe Sound resident, Margaret “Peggy” Cole learned of a local child who was a National Merit Scholar. Remarkably, this young person had lived in 17 different foster homes in his short life. Mrs. Cole, whose late husband once served as Chairman of the Board for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, decided that he and others like him deserved to experience the benefits of a Boys & Girls Club in Hobe Sound. Peggy gathered community support and found a strong partner in Hays Clark. Hays served on the National Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and was honored with the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award, the highest tribute the Boys & Girls Club of America can bestow on a volunteer. Together, they founded the first Boys & Girls Club in Martin County. 

With humble beginnings in the Hobe Sound Winn-Dixie Plaza, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County began with just 165 children. It has now grown to four Clubs -- in Hobe Sound, Port Salerno, Palm City, and Indiantown with thousands of members! See our Impact HERE!

Times have changed and programs have grown since 1989, but the need identified by Peggy Cole and Hays Clark for affordable youth development opportunities remains strong. Today, parents agree Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is benefiting their children and preparing them for Great Futures