Saturday, September 11, 2021

Spirit of Generosity: Great Futures

Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club

“Your future is created by what you do today.”

This simple message appears in the entryway of the Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club — it’s also a through-line of our summer-long Spirit of Generosity series: making the decision to give back, even in a small way, has ripple effects that can last for generations.

The Spirit of Generosity abounds at the Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, which has nearly 700 registered members who benefit from its enrichment programs in academics, sports, arts, technology, traditional language skills, nutrition, and more. Its mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Twenty seven percent of Akwesasne families with children under 18 live in poverty, and this nonprofit offers hope and opportunity.

One of the most popular — and most needed — services offered by the Boys & Girls Club is its summer kids programming. With support from Generous Acts at Adirondack Foundation, programs like Brain Gain combine fun summer activities with a strong academic component. Executive Director Jessica Cree-Jock notes that this helps kids start the new school year better prepared to build from a strong foundation of academic skills rather than losing proficiencies over the long summer break.

Boys and Girls Club programming focuses on six core areas: leadership and character building; education; health and life skills; culture and the arts; sports, fitness, and recreation; and technology. Brain Gain lessons are hands-on and often tied to Mohawk culture, including making traditional splint baskets out of black ash — from pounding the logs to peeling the layers, collecting the splints and shaping, drying, and weaving them. Teens have also learned math and life skills by constructing buddy benches for a public park and nearby school grounds.

Adirondack Foundation recognizes that creating bright futures starts early and investing in educational pathways from cradle to career is foundational to building a stronger, more equitable community. Every investment counts. Small things — an afternoon in the woods, a tutoring session, game nights — can have life-altering effects on youth. With the Spirit of Generosity comes the understanding that our actions today can have a profound impact on our future.

All summer long, Adirondack Foundation is celebrating the Spirit of Generosity by highlighting stories about the generous people, organizations, and collaborations that enrich the lives of people in the Adirondacks. Every Saturday, Adirondack Almanack will share an essay by Cali Brooks, President and CEO, about some of the people and programs that Adirondack Foundation invests in and partners with to enhance the lives of people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy.  Readers can win the opportunity to direct a grant to an organization that aligns with the Foundation’s Generous Acts program. To enter, simply create a social media post that captures what generosity means to you and tag Adirondack Foundation’s accounts.

Above photo: Members of the Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club. Photo by Lisa J. Godfrey

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Cali Brooks is president & CEO of Adirondack Foundation. After working with nonprofit organizations in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the United States, Cali returned home to the Adirondacks and worked for the HKH Foundation where she conducted a survey to assess the economic, social, cultural, and environmental strengths of the Adirondack region. She then joined the Public Affairs office of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and co-founded the Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program. She and her family live in and love the Adirondacks.

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