In 1860, four women in Hartford, Connecticut recognized a serious problem and came together to do something about it. Countless youth, especially young boys, were orphaned or left alone while their parents worked and many were living on the streets of major cities. Elizabeth Hammersley, Louisa Bushnell and sisters Mary & Alice Goodwin led a community effort to give them a warm, safe sanctuary: the first Boys’ Club.
What started as a room with a donated piano and books gradually grew into a center of education and hope. The “Goodwill Club” was unique at the time for welcoming all boys regardless of religion or ethnicity. Led by Mary Hall, Connecticut’s first female lawyer, Boys’ Clubs spread across the US and joined together in 1931 to form what would become the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
From their earliest days, the clubs were inclusive, nonpartisan and forward-thinking. They have served as safe, welcoming places full of tutoring and education programs, sports, art & music classes, and other opportunities. Most importantly, Boys & Girls Clubs are a place for kids to discover and develop their inherent talents so they can achieve better futures.