Allan Young got his first job at the Santa Monica Boys Club. He had been named the 1963 “Youth of the Year” and a part time job went with the award. 2009 will be his last year at the Club. He has personally worked with thousands of boys and girls and their families. “I’ve loved every minute of being here. I never felt this was a job. I felt this was my family.”
His dad brought him to the Boys Club in 1955. Membership was 50 cents/year and that included everything the club had to offer. Allan went to Roosevelt Elementary and his dad felt Allan needed to play with kids from all kinds of backgrounds and that his elementary school didn’t give him that experience. “My dad was ahead of his time.”
From his “Youth of the Year” job to being Assistant Athletic Director, he continued to work at the Club all the way through high school at SAMOHI and college at SMC and Northridge. In 1966 he was drafted and went to the Naval Dental School and then served, as a dental tech, in both Guam and Vietnam.
When he returned, Cyril Gale, a Santa Monica dentist and President of the Boys Club Board, said he would help him go to dental school. But Allan wanted to work at the club. By 1969 he was the Club’s Athletic Director. In 1977 he became the Executive Director.
There are now Boys and Girls Clubs at Lincoln, Samohi, JAMS, McKinley, and at several Community Corps housing projects. Membership is $10/year for all the club has to offer including: homework labs, tech labs, athletic activities, and academic counseling. Allan feels it is a “mistake for the schools or the city to try to duplicate the work of the non-profits.”
The first Boys Club, started in 1860 by a small group of socially concerned women, was called the “Dash Away Club”. They wanted to create opportunities for the boys they called “the urchins”. For over a hundred years the clubs served boys across the US and on US military bases.
Not until 1990, and then only with argument and challenge, did the Boys Clubs of America officially become the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. When Allan came to realize that he “had to change with the times” he met individually with each of the 45 Santa Monica Board Members to get agreement because he didn’t want to go to court over the issue. Now Allen says, “One of the things I regret most was not serving girls sooner. Girls are in every sport and activity and they make the club a better place for everyone.”
This summer Allan is taking twelve, 16-18 year old teenagers, of diverse backgrounds, to Kenya on a program run by “Free the Children”, a Canadian organization where his daughter works. “The purpose is to teach our kids that they can make a difference. But I believe this experience will change them in a good way. The kids will build a school and the adults will build a medical clinic. Real progress gets made one person and one project at a time: one more school, one more clinic, one more water purification plant.”
Retirement doesn’t mean not working for Allan. He will be at the Pacific Youth Foundation working on global problems of youth, poverty and education. “In Brazil there is an estimated population of 15 million street children. Tupperware employs about 10,000 people in Brazil. Their CEO has talked with us about starting Boys and Girls Clubs in Brazil. That is a project I intend to work on. I intend to keep working on the same issues and toward the same goal of educating children. The only way out of poverty is through education and respect – whether you live in Africa, South America or the US.”