At Boston College, students love to serve. The school's Jesuit tradition of being “men and women for others” lends itself to a culture of giving back and volunteering, exemplified by students' never-ending list of service and volunteer-based clubs—and the fact that they often need to apply to serve.
With a multitude of volunteer organizations at BC, it’s easy for some clubs to fall into the shadows and forego the recognition they deserve for doing great work in our community. One such club—although definitely not the only one—is the Height's Boys and Girls Club.
The Height's Boys and Girls Club is a volunteer organization that works with the Commonwealth Tenants Association (CTA). The CTA is a low-income housing development on Washington St. in Brighton, with a strong after-school program that serves kids of all ages.
Other Boston College clubs are affiliated with the CTA too, working with their after-school program; some 4Boston and Pulse placements work with the CTA, as well as BC tutors and others. The Boys and Girls Club, however, takes a unique approach to its service activities. One Saturday a month, the BC club members, about 25 students, meet with the same number of kids from the CTA to spend the afternoon together.
Nick Morelli, ‘16, the club’s president, said past outings have included apple picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA, and skating at the rink in Cleveland Circle. Each BC member gets matched up with a CTA member, and is their designated buddy for the day, with the goal being to keep the pairs together for the entire year.
In the evening after the outing, the BC members write a letter to their partner, which Morelli will deliver to the CTA. The CTA members represent a range of different ages, with the youngest current member a six-year-old, and the oldest being in 8th grade. The kids tend to stay in the program year after year, which allows BC members to follow them as they grow older.
“It’s fun to watch the hierarchy dynamic: older kids taking care of the younger, newer ones, and watching those younger kids grow up,” says Morelli.
The Height's Boys and Girls Club is less of a commitment than some other service clubs, however it still plays an important role in the lives of the kids at the CTA and the lives of BC members. Morelli describes the Height's Boys and Girls Club as not necessarily on a mission or striving to make changes, but rather a chance to give members—both from BC and the CTA—a fun and low-key afternoon.
Morelli also says that the club is good because it gives BC students exposure outside of the “BC bubble.” Most BC students don’t come from the low-income background that the CTA members do, and it gives students a look into a different background than theirs.
Despite the fact that the Boys and Girls Club is more low-key than programs like 4Boston or Pulse, it is very competitive. The amount of BC students in the club is based on the number of CTA kids who are involved, which stays around 25, meaning that BC students need to apply for the few spots available. Morelli says that this is his least favorite part of the organization, although it is logistically necessary. This great amount of interest and passion for clubs like the Height's Boys and Girls Club just goes to show how eager BC students are to fulfill their roles in becoming men and women for others.