David Gugerty, 50, has been involved with the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club in Locust Valley since he was 7 years old. He met children from varying backgrounds, and experienced much through the club, he said.
“That was just a magical time, of salmon fishing and canoeing, and sleeping in lean-tos,” Gugerty said, recalling his participation in the club’s Canada Camp in the 1970s.
Gugerty, now chief of staff for the Nassau County Legislature, became a volunteer coach at the club about 10 years ago. He wanted to give back to the club that gave to him, he said.
On Monday, Gugerty continued to give back by attending the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club Alumni and Friends Golf Tournament at the Muttontown Country Club. The annual tournament was established in 2008, in an effort to honor Boys & Girls Club alumni.
This year’s tournament featured honorees Eamon and Margaret Lavin, and Paul and Dawn Schieferstein, two couples who donate much of their time to the Boys & Girls Club. Paul Schieferstein is an alumnus.
“The club makes a difference in so many children’s lives,” said Christine Thomaides, 45, the Boys & Girls Club’s director of special events. “We are a home away from home for a lot of these kids.”
According to Thomaides, a former Long Island resident who now lives in Queens, the event is the club’s second largest fundraiser. The money raised supports its programs and services.
Thomaides said she could not disclose the amount of money raised, but that the event was “very successful.” In this year’s outing, 112 golfers played, and many were club alumni.
Following their rounds, they met in the golf club’s cocktail room for dinner, to listen to speakers present awards and watch a video about the Boys & Girls Club.
“It’s important because at events like this, we get a lot of folks who are supporting our honorees, who may not know about the club,” Thomaides said.
Ramon Reyes, 51, of Locust Valley, is the Boys & Girls Club’s executive director. He has been involved with the club since 1986.
Reyes went to the Boys & Girls Club when he was a teenager, and was influenced by adult role models he encountered there. Now, he said, he works to make the club a place where children are surrounded with advocates and positive role models, like he was.
“It generates dollars,” he said of the event, “but more importantly, it introduces a different audience to the Boys & Girls Club.” The honorees, he explained, reach out to their friends and introduce them to the organization.
Paul Schiferstein, 48, said the club is special because it brings the community together.
“It’s kind of a melting pot,” he said. “The club is a very special place for children.”
The Bayville resident has been coaching sports at the club for about 12 years.
Audrey Rydzewski, 76, and Joe Rydzewski, 77, have been involved with the organization since the 1960s -- first as parents, then as volunteers. The two have been married 56 years.
“We’re those good old folks that volunteer,” Audrey Rydzewski said. “It’s the people that give and do and volunteer, I think, who are the happiest.”
Above: Eamon and Margaret Lavin, left, and Paul and Dawn Schiferstein share a moment during dinner after the Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club">Boys & Girls Club Alumni and Friends Golf Tournament at Muttontown Country Club. Both couples were honored at this year's event. (July 16, 2012)