Assemblymember Wallace Announces Plans, Startup Operational Funding for Cheektowaga Boys & Girls Club

Today, New York State Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace was joined by Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, Cheektowaga Town Councilmember Brian Pilarski, and community leaders to announce plans for a Cheektowaga-based Boys & Girls Club at the Alexander Community Center. Located at 275 Alexander Avenue in Cheektowaga, the former school currently houses several town offices, but remains under-utilized. The existing gymnasium, kitchen, cafeteria, computer lab, and recreation rooms will be used by the Boys & Girls Club.

“As a working parent and as someone who was raised by a single mother, I know firsthand how important it is to have quality after school care for children in our community,” said Wallace. “That’s why I’m happy to announce that I have secured a $100,000 grant to cover the initial startup costs for this much-needed program.”

Wallace noted that the Boys & Girls Club has enjoyed historical success in improving educational outcomes and building strong, community-minded individuals in communities it serves. According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America:[1]

  • 76% of low-income Club members ages 12 to 18 who attend the Club regularly report receiving mostly As and Bs, compared to 67% of their peers nationally
  • 12th-grade Club girls are more than three times more likely to express an interest in a STEM career than their same-aged peers nationally (47% of Club girls compared with 15% of girls nationally)
  • Regularly attending Club members in eighth, 10th and 12th grades have significantly higher volunteering rates than their same-grade peers nationally. By 12th grade, Club members report they volunteer at least monthly at nearly twice the rate of their peers nationally, or 70% compared to 38%
  • 92% of regularly attending Club members report trying to help when they see people in need.
  • The majority of Club members report high levels of social-emotional skills. For example, regarding self-efficacy, 94% of members report there are many things they can do well
  • Club members in ninth through 12th grades report doing better than teens nationally in avoiding key health-risk behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or misusing prescription pills

“Bringing a Boys & Girls Club to Cheektowaga will be transformative for so many families, unlocking opportunities and raising the potential for countless Cheektowaga children,” said Wallace. “In communities served by Boys & Girls Clubs, participating students attain higher grades, mental health and self-confidence improve, and are less likely to engage in alcohol or drug abuse. Today’s announcement is the result of dedication by several community leaders, and I could not be more excited for the potential that the Boys & Girls Club will bring to Cheektowaga.”

“We are excited to be working with the Cheektowaga Youth Foundation and Depew-Lancaster Boys & Girls Club to expand recreational opportunities for our youth,” said Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski. “A Boys & Girls Club will fill the time void between school letting out and our evening youth & recreation programs providing a safe, fun and active space for children to meet. This is just another example of the type of public-private partnership that I have pursued as Supervisor – we are putting to work unused space in the Alexander Building and providing more services to our residents with no additional burden on our taxpayers. Thank you Assemblymember Wallace for securing this funding – this is a big step toward making this dream a reality.”

“The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex,” said Cheektowaga Councilmember Brian Pilarski. “Opening a Boys & Girls Club in Cheektowaga helps fill a gap of free time our youth have before Cheektowaga Youth & Recreation programming begins. This new Boys & Girls Club will give youth a safe place to go with caring adults all while teaching character and leadership to our youth.”

“The Cheektowaga Youth Foundation is dedicated to enriching the lives of the youth of Cheektowaga,” said Cheektowaga Youth Foundation Chairman Brian Gould. “We have identified the lack of after school programming for our youth in their neighborhoods as a concern and feel strongly that the time has come to bring a Boys & Girls Club to Cheektowaga. We are appreciative of Assemblywoman Wallace’s efforts to support our foundation in this critically important endeavor.”

The Cheektowaga Boys & Girls Club will be affiliated with the Boys & Girls Club of Depew-Lancaster, providing the new chapter with guidance and organizational backing. The Boys & Girls Club of Depew-Lancaster has been providing educational programming and opportunities for generations of Western New Yorkers.

"For over 83 years, the Boys & Girls Club has made a positive impact on the youth of our communities,” said Boys & Girls Club of Depew-Lancaster Executive Director Dave Hoch. “We have offered our children a safe place to grow, learn, and have fun during their after school hours. Many dedicated staff members have been role models for our children through the programming we offer. We are excited to be able to open up a new Club and provide the same opportunities to the children of Cheektowaga."

Wallace noted that the next steps for the project include identifying additional funding through state grants and private donors, which will then enable the town to move forward with security and accessibility updates to the Alexander Community Center in preparation for the Boys & Girls Club.

“This is an investment in our children, and one in which we will see the results within our community. The impact this will have on children and young adults in our community cannot be overstated, and I am absolutely thrilled to have had a role in making this a reality,” concluded Wallace.