This past November, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem named St. John's Prep the 2023 Stephen O'Grady Community Champion For Kids in honor of the dedication and service the students of St. John's Prep have shown to the Club over the past 25 years. The award was presented at the Boys and Girls Club of Salem's annual Champion for Kids Celebration, held at Ledger Restaurant in Salem—a celebration which included a silent and live auction and dance routines performed by teenage members of the Boys and Girls Club. Head of School Dr. Ed Hardiman P'19 '21 '26 accepted the award on behalf of the School, with Director of Campus Ministry Rob Tyler, campus minister Lawrence Molloy, campus minister Paul Francisco, school counselor Declan Foley '11, William Danzinger P'23, and Jeannine Hicks P'23 in attendance.
"Taking Prep students to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem is uplifting," says Rob Tyler, director of campus ministry at St. John's. "Whether someone is joining us for the first time, or never misses a week, our volunteers often find themselves at home. The companionship discovered between our students and the children of the Boys and Girls Club is significant. It’s no surprise that this relationship has lasted 25 years."
To commend St. John's and its students for service to the Boys and Girls Club of Salem and the 2023 Community Champion Award, Massachusetts State Senator Joan Lovely issued an official citation to the School. "Please accept this letter of congratulations for being named as the 2023 Community Champion by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem," wrote Lovely in an accompanying letter. "We are so deeply grateful for your support for the children who currently attend, and the generations of students who have attended, the greatest Boys & Girls Club in Massachusetts. Thank you for your participation and commitment, and congratulations again for this very deserving honor."
But greater than the recognition is the impact serving at the Boys & Girls Club has had on the students who take advantage of the Club's after-school program, as well as the impact serving has on the Prep students who volunteer. Below, students were asked to weigh in on their time volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club and how serving has impacted their lives. Their words affirm the idea that serving isn't a performative action, rather, it's a selfless calling to influence every situation you encounter for the benefit of others.
David Kobrosky '17
"Volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club during my senior year at St. John's Prep, I realized that this was so much more than giving back to the community. This was about setting these talented young kids up for a successful future. On a more personal note, I was having a tough year in high school, and knowing that I had my weekly visit to the Boys and Girls Club gave me meaning. For the years following my senior year, I’d visit the Boys and Girls club whenever I visited home from college. The time and energy I put into supporting such an important initiative paid it’s self back ten-fold in the form of gratitude for all those who did the same for me in my earlier years and in the form of meaning, knowing how directly impactful my time at the Boys and Girls club was."
Tommy Dankert '23
"Working with kids at the boys and girls club was an experience that was not just about making the day better for the kids, but also something fun that I looked forward to every week, which taught me that service is a two-way street and how often we gain more from the experience of working with other people than we give."
Matthew Ciampa '23
"Through my time at the Boys and Girls Club, I built meaningful connections with the students in the after-school program and found mentors in the campus ministers. My experiences volunteering have shaped the young man that I have become, and I look to continue to serve others in the future."
Harry Block '24
"My experience learning and forming bonds with the students served me far beyond all that I was ever able to provide. Whether it was working on homework, building with Lego, or playing basketball, the genuine connections that I was able to form at the Boys and Girls Club gave me an immense sense of fulfillment.”
Jack Linehan '19
"Volunteering at the Salem Boys and Girls Club was incredibly rewarding. From the moment I stepped through those doors, I was greeted warmly by the staff and the energetic children. The range of activities available, from tutoring sessions to indoor/outdoor sports and arts and crafts, always kept everyone occupied. It was fulfilling to see the positive impact I was making on the kids' lives, helping them develop new academic/athletic skills and build confidence. Throughout my time at the club, I not only gave back to the community but also gained valuable leadership and communication skills that I know will serve me well in my future endeavors.”
Charles Kahn '19
"Working with the students at Salem Boys & Girls Club were some of the most impactful days of my life at St. John’s. Between the educational guidance, all of the games played, and the bonds formed on those Thursday afternoons, my time at Salem was incredibly special as I saw the impact of our work on the kids. In return, the students at Salem Boys & Girls club we’re an inspiration for me to continue to want to help the younger generation grow and develop to their full potential. The students and faculty at Salem are a close-knit and bonded group of people that I was fortunate enough to be included in. I’m so proud that our relationship is strong and to know that the students of St. John’s have carried the tradition of growing our bond with our brothers and sisters in Salem.”