saul cavanTo the Editor, A few weeks ago,

I heard another amazing Holyoke success story.

One of six children, Saul Caban is attending Westfield State University planning to graduate a criminal justice major in a few short years. He is well-spoken, a strong student and projects a confidence from within that belies his young age and left me with an impression that this young man is going places.

Saul then shared that he is the first in his family to graduate from high school, is a recipient of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, and works several jobs to pay for all the expenses that come with furthering his education.

He closed his presentation with his personal thanks to me, and to the rest of the board of directors at the Boys & Girls Club in Holyoke, for our part in ensuring that the Club was available to him when he sorely needed it over the past few years.

He said it was OUR Club that kept him on this path.

I have served on the board of the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club for years always knowing that it provided a safe haven for our young people, sports opportunities and extensive after school programming for those who need it most. What Saul’s presentation did though, was remind me how proud I am to be a part of, and support, an organization that so strongly impacts every part of my community.

The Holyoke Boys & Girls Club has impacted many people over the past 120 years and it continues to do so in these challenging times.

It doesn’t just give a kid someplace to hang out or a court to practice basketball or a pool to swim, it gives them the knowledge that they can have an awesome future with a great family and home, the support to become a hardworking employee with a fulfilling career, and the awareness that completing their education will serve them well throughout their futures.

In Holyoke, there are many children like Saul, young men and women who want more yet who face challenges that can frighten the strongest among us.

Yet each wants just what my friends and I wanted growing up - to become a teacher or police officer or a professional in a business that gives a good career, a chance to own a home and raise children when its time, and enjoy all that life has to offer.

They want a way to make a positive impact on our city, our region and even the world.

Each day, approximately 300 youth participate in the extensive after school programming offered on Nick Cosmos Way or at one of the four satellite units located in Holyoke Housing Authority properties throughout the city. An additional 97 attend the membership program each evening from 6-9 p.m.

Over the course of a year, nearly 3,000 – about half of our entire school age population – will join their friends and classmates in activities led by the Boys & Girls Club of Holyoke!

Like so many Holyokers who have come before, Saul and his fellow Club members will impact not just Holyoke, but our Commonwealth, our country and our world. I strongly support the hard work done by the staff there, and recognize the legacy of both current and former board members.

I ask you to let these kids know that we all support their efforts and join me in committing to their futures by supporting the It Just Takes One campaign in the coming weeks. Each tax-deductible dollar you give will ensure that our Club is open and serving the children who need it most. Thank you for your consideration.


James Leahy

City Councilor at Large,