Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester provide mentorship, friendship

Community

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Alumnus Kris Gibbs-Smith says the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester put him on a path to success.

Gibbs-Smith, who lives and works in northern California, discussed his time at the Club Tuesday during News 8 at Noon.

“I started when I was about 10 years old, so probably 1993 is the first time I went,” Gibbs-Smith recalled about his first visit to the Club. “I think the thing that stands out to me the most is that when I was a kid, you look at our environment, there was a lot of things that you don’t want to get involved in and the Boys and Girls Club was a safe haven for me and a lot of my friends. We looked at it as a place where we could go be kids, we could go learn, we could get skills, we could get confidence, and we had a lot of father figures there that were giving us the ability to learn from other people that looked like us trying to do good things in the community.”

Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director Dwayne Mahoney had a significant influence on Gibbs-Smith. “He was a great mentor to me. He taught me to look forward to the future, to never settle, to be ambitious, to want to go chase my goals, to want to think outside the box, to not let my environment or my community dictate where I go in life. I think I took from him a lot of professional mentorship to want to achieve more things.”

When asked about his favorite memories at the Club, Gibbs-Smith pointed to the relationships that he formed while there. “I think the biggest memories that I have are just the friendships and bonds that I created and the space that it became for me,” he said. “It became such a place of love and a place of community and I think that in that environment that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for strong friendships and you’re looking for a feel of community, a feel of what’s good for you, what can help you in the future, and I think the people that I am still really good friends with I met at the Boys and Girls Club and some of my best friends – we spent so much time there together and I think the Club gave us all of that space to grow and bond together.”

This year – 2021 – marks 50 years for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester. Gibbs-Smith spoke about the Club’s role in our community. “A lot of the kids who go there need that place. It’s a place that takes them out of places that they don’t want to be. It’s a place where they learn, where someone is planting seeds for their life, someone who is giving them the opportunity to think about what they can be. A lot of the problem in our community is kids don’t get the opportunity to know or think about things that they haven’t been exposed to. At the Club, they’re learning science and math, and computers, and people are telling them to go and explore. That place is giving a lot of young, talented kids who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, the opportunity to chase their dreams – dreams they didn’t know they had until someone showed them what it could be.”

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rochester, visit bgcrochester.org.

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