The Merrimack Valley is lucky to have so many community organizations working tirelessly to help residents of all ages thrive. For Joe Hungler, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, supporting the community starts with ensuring that adequate resources are available for organizations to provide services to current and future generations.
Hungler grew up a “club kid,” attending the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, N.H. After years of enjoying its after-school programs, Hungler began to give back, first by cleaning up after bingo nights, and eventually spending his high school and college summers working at the club’s camps. After graduating from college, Hungler promised himself just one more summer at the club. “Halfway through that summer, I asked myself, ‘How do I get to keep doing this?’ ” Hungler says. And his career began from there.
Since 1992, Hungler has worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manchester and Greater Nashua in New Hampshire, and at the club in Waltham, Mass., and he was the director of operations for eight years at the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester before coming to Lowell as executive director in 2010. For Hungler, it’s the positive impact his work has on children that makes his career feel so special. “I would say the club changed my life,” he says. “Some of my friends who I went to the club with would say the club saved their life. And I’ve heard that from all the clubs I’ve worked at.”
This week the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell will be kicking off its “Believe & Become” fundraising campaign to help expand programming and to renovate its almost 50-year-old building on Middlesex Street.
The campaign is hoping to raise $18 million. According to Hungler, construction will transform the 55,000-square-foot club into a modern learning center with “sustainable and flexible program spaces.” The organization plans to expand many programs, including the addition of dance and theater to its offerings in the arts. Hungler put a particular emphasis on the inclusion of a new teens-only space that will accommodate programs for an estimated 250 youths every day.
“We can do amazing things to set a foundation for young kids,” Hungler says. “But if we don’t keep them through high school and help them figure out their post-high school path, then we’re not going to achieve our goal of making sure they have the access to resources that are necessary for a great future.”
In addition to providing programming and resources for members of the community, this new campaign willcreate opportunities for local children in need. “The campaign is about the building, but it’s also about the impact,” Hungler says. “Our real goal is that we want to end generational poverty, because that’s the purpose of the club. We serve those who need us most and help them to reach their full potential.” Visit here to learn more about the “Believe & Become” campaign and how you can contribute.
Patrick Tighe, the architect of the club transformation project, was a “club kid” himself who attended the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. Check out our exclusive 2016 interview with Tighe here.