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The History of the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Paso

The Boys & Girls Club of El Paso began as the Good Will Boys’ Club with eight members, one set of boxing gloves, one basketball and one set of dominoes. Founded in early 1929 by two civic-minded men, the Club met in the basement of the Lydia Patterson Institute. The Club was formed to address the growing problem of juvenile delinquency by taking boys off of the streets and providing them with worthwhile activities, wholesome recreation, and teaching them to avoid crime. The Club was so successful that by mid-1929 membership had grown to the point that incorporation was necessary. On August 17th of that year the Club was officially chartered by the Boys’ Clubs of America and the group moved into a vacant warehouse building located 801 S. Florence Street, which today stands as Club Travis H. Petty and houses the Club’s administration offices.

Over the next thirty years the Club continued to expand, and by 1959 two new branches were opened on Paisano and Eucalyptus Streets. In 1961 and 1963, the Club had two of its participants named “Boy of the Year” by Boys’ Clubs of America and President John F. Kennedy, bringing national recognition to the Clubs in El Paso.

One of the biggest changes to the organization came in 1990 when girls were officially allowed to participate. All Boys’ Clubs and chartered organizations were renamed “Boys & Girls Clubs.” Today there are four chartered units operating throughout El Paso, providing programs that help kids develop positive self-esteem, realization of self-worth, and opportunities to reach one’s maximum potential: Club Travis H. Petty in south El Paso, Club Delta in central El Paso, Club Janacek in far east El Paso County (Montana Vista), and Club Canutillo at Canutillo Elementary School in far west El Paso County (Upper Valley). All of these Clubs target very low income populations that have limited resources for the development of children and teens.