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December 1, 2020
Giving Back: Winston Alozie
FOR WINSTON ALOZIE , CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem, it’s all about the kids. He knows from experience: he was a kid, 13 and new to Bethlehem from Shreveport, Louisiana in 2001. The Club was a place not only to make friends (“and eat snacks, food my parents didn’t want us to eat”), but for necessities–like heat–through the hard cultural and socioeconomic shift. “The Club has a storied tradition of being here for the most vulnerable children and families,” he says. And the work is about letting those kids and families know “their presence here matters. And is appreciated.”
Winston first worked for the club in 2003 as a summer camp junior staffer at Yosko Park. He returned every summer after that, graduating from Freedom High School and Edinboro University with a BA in developmental psychology. He joined the Club in 2012 as program director, then unit director, for the now-closed South Side location, and was also program director at a BGCB program at Broughal Middle School, before assuming his current role of CEO in 2019. He never thought he’d hold the position he holds now, but is passionate about the work of giving back. “I try to empower kids in ways that I didn’t feel empowered,” he says, grateful for how the staff of the Club once championed him as a young person. “Great futures come out of our programs.”
The Bethlehem Club was organized 90 years ago by prominent Bethlehemites on the eve of the Great Depression; supporting the community during another time of great uncertainty is exactly what it was built for. “I want to live on and grow their legacies,” says Winston. “I want us to be able to provide for the kids that we serve, the kids of color, poor kids, kids who are just kids who need somewhere to be: a place where they can be part of something, and help build up their lives.”
The Club opened its doors this June and serves many families of essential workers who are not as celebrated– the grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, in-home caregivers. At a time of remote and hybrid learning, the Club has programs where children can gather safely, with technology access and tutoring. This year hasn’t been easy for anyone, but “I’ve seen the good in humanity,” says Winston, citing the dedicated financial donors, the local businesses donating food and supplies. “We can’t survive without people giving,” he says. “If you feel this work matters, you can be a part of making sure it still happens.”
To learn more about their programs, to volunteer, or to donate, visit bgcob.org.