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Murray Journal

Boys & Girls Clubs' Unification Celebrated

Oct 08, 2015 03:49PM ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Bob Dunn, Tim Peterson, Emily Carvajal, Mauricia Salinas, Kellie Williams and LeAnn Salvidar of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake at the organization’s “ribbon tying” last month at Salt Lake Marriott downtown. The former Boys & Girls Club of South Valley locations are still the same. Photo courtesy of Blake Yelavich

By Rhett Wilkinson

The Boys & Girls Club of South Valley isn’t going anywhere.

The organization is being unified with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake, but its offices and locations remain in the same place. That is what Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake President LeAnn Saldivar told the South Valley Journal.

Utah’s two largest Boys & Girls Clubs kicked off their recent unification last month with a “ribbon tying” (not ribbon cutting) ceremony at the Salt Lake Marriott downtown at City Creek. Also, the Day for Kids Celebration was held the same weekend as a time to “make a splash” about the new merger, Saldivar said.

“The process of joining our two organizations has been nearly 18 months of hard work and due diligence,” Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley Bob Dunn said. “The boards of both organizations carefully debated every option, and asked every ‘what-if’ to make sure this decision was what’s best for the kids we serve.”

Dunn is now the vice president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, the name for the unified entities.

The merger is going to help the clubs be more competitive with respect to attracting more talent and will contribute to more efficient operations, enabling them to direct more of their funds into growth and serving more kids. Challenges include combining cultures from organizations that have each been around for a half-century, Saldivar said.

“Sometimes it’s hard to fix something that isn’t broken,” she said. “But we were able to get past that knowing that it’s best for the kids in our community.”

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley began as the Murray Boys Club, which opened in 1967. The Sugar House Boys Club opened in 1968, marking the beginning of what would become Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake. The Murray and Sugar House Clubs originally served less than 200 kids per year. The new organization now serves more than 1,300 youth each day and more than 8,000 annually at 12 locations across Salt Lake City, Murray, Midvale, Kearns, Sandy, Tooele and the surrounding communities.

Two former Boys & Girls Club members – Youths of the Year Emily Carvajal and Mauricio Salinas – tied the ceremonial ribbon at the VIP reception for longtime supporters, community partners and government officials who have helped Boys & Girls Clubs thrive in the Salt Lake valley for nearly 50 years. About 500 children were estimated to attend the celebration, which included bouncy houses and a bike drawing, as part of the organization’s national initiative.

Saldivar emphasized how much more work there is to be done. She said that this generation of children is in “crisis” because it is the first in United States history that is estimated to be worse off than their parents.

“There is still a signification portion of Salt Lake County – especially areas of double digit poverty – where there remains a great need for Boys & Girls Clubs, a need that we cannot meet as separate organizations,” she said. “That’s why we’re announcing our official unification as one organization with one staff and one purpose: to serve the kids who need us most.”

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