President, Board of Directors
“The Club is also a place where members can be together, no matter what their background and the Club has a unique way of bringing them together.”
As a boy Pittsfield Attorney John C. Donna was a member of what was then known as the Boys’ Club. He played basketball, learned to swim, shot archery, enjoyed the model airplane activities and the infamous Carrom Boards, and went off to Camp Russell in the summer. He met his wife, Mary Ellen, at one of the Boys’ Club dances.
For the past 34 years John has been a member of the Club’s Board of Directors serving as its President for 20 years. His father was also President of the Board for 18 years. “There have been four tenets we have tried to follow which were laid down by the Club’s Founders,” John said. “The first of these was to get boys (at the time) off the streets by providing a recreational resource for them. It was no less of a problem in 1905 than it is today. The second was to offer some vocational experience such as woodworking, sheet metal work and electronics training so as to afford them an opportunity to acquire a skill. The third was the promotion of hygiene accomplished by mandatory showers before use of the swimming pool. The last was the encouragement of reading in order to improve one’s self, usually through the use of on-site libraries.”
“The Club has gone in many directions since its founding and provided a variety of offerings over the years,” John continued, “changing with the time as much as possible when necessary, but always trying to remain true to its central core. Today there is so much competition for young people’s time that it is much more difficult, but we try to meet the needs of those who come through the doors and adjust accordingly. The Club is also a place where members can be together no matter what their backgrounds and the Club has a unique was of bringing them together.”
One major benefit of the Club that has stood the test of time is its positive influence on members. “Being at the Club provides a good opportunity to fine-tune and enhance the development of character,” he said. “When the Staff spots individuals who are having problems, they try to take them aside and deal with them one on one or in small groups. Having a relaxed setting helps break down barriers and engenders trust resulting in a high success rate. There is a real stigma to being suspended for a couple of weeks for bad behavior or expelled, so members tend to treat each other and the Staff with respect.”
“It is our hope that the community at large will continue to support the Club and consider it a community asset.”