Changing Children's Lives with the Boys and Girls Club
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Joe Licata, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Lodi, Hackensack and Teaneck, who explains how the Boys and Girls Club serves as a safe haven for thousands of children across New Jersey and the nation. Joe discusses the programs available to kids and the lessons they learn along the way.
"We are pleased to welcome Joe Licata, who is CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Lodi, and Hackensack, and Teaneck. Good to see you Joe. Nice to meet you Steve. Talk about the... I grew up in a Boys Club in Newark, New Jersey. Talk about... this is the Boys - and Girls - Club. Of course. Of three communities? Three. Yeah. Talk about it. Yeah. So we've been in Lodi for... since 1949, incorporated and then charted as a Boys & Girls Club, or a Boys Club at the time, in '51, serving the kids of Lodi. Originally boys... Right. ...whose families were working in the war effort in World War II. Dad was overseas, mom was working in Cedar... That's right. ...Wright Village and the airplane factory in Wood-Ridge over there. From there, you know, fast-forward... It was part of the war effort? Yes. So one gentleman, Frank Plesh, was, you know, gathering the guys and saying, "Hey don't get into trouble, let's figure out something else to do." And he would play sports with them, baseball, basketball... and that was the birth of the Boys Club in Lodi. From there, fast forward to the 80s... became Boys & Girls Club of Lodi. Late 2000s, we started a club in Hackensack. And this year, we are opening a club actually next week, in Teaneck, New Jersey. That's awesome. By the way, for those of us who have a history with the Boys... or the Boys & Girls Club, first, Denzel Washington has done some great things. He grew up in the Yonkers area? Yes. Right? But for some of us who were born and raised in Newark, my grandfather, who I never knew, he died well before I was born, and was the first executive director of the Boys Club in Newark, New Jersey. Yeah. And so we had a long history. Oh wow. And I appreciate the organization very much. It taught a lot of us how to swim and do some other things. Absolutely. For the kids that you serve... how many by the way? We served, last year, over 2,000 children. What kind of things do they face? You know, nationally, we do have a crisis in this country. And we're a small piece in fixing that crisis. But there's over 15 million school-aged children that have nowhere to go after school. That's through the coun... throughout the country. Where do they go if they don't have the Boys & Girls Club? I don't know. And that's scary, isn't it? It sure is. And I'm sure there's other organizations and school programs, but what we do..."