For the past 79 days, you’ve been reading (here and on Twitter) stories of our alumni and testimonials from our kids, staff and supporters about why BGC Matters. Tomorrow is the 80th, and final day of our birthday campaign and so we’ll be celebrating BGC’s 80th birthday with the support of the Vancouver Canadians at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium. Throwing out the first pitch is one of our most loyal and dedicated supporters, Peter W. Webster. He’s been our friend for almost 50 years. Now that’s belonging! Read through to learn why BGC Matters to him.
And, as I often say, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t “invite you” to make a gift to help us celebrate BGC’s birthday. A birthday gift to BGC is really a gift that gives our thousands of amazing kids the most important gift of all: belonging.
Husband. Father. Grandfather. Friend. Proud Canadian. Staunch Promoter of Christmas. Businessman. Volunteer. Champion of Kids (especially Boys and Girls Clubs kids). If I were to describe myself, these are some of the things I would say. The last one was provided by Boys and Girls Clubs, I suppose because I’ve been around for so long.
I didn’t go to a Boys Club growing up in Montreal, and in fact didn’t discover it until I moved west in the 1970’s, when I was introduced to the organization through my professional network. In no time at all, I was serving on the Board and doing what I could to help them to build a strong organization and to grow. I still remember when I proudly told my Uncle Howard (R. Howard Webster, to be exact) about my new, developing relationship with this Boys and Girls Club of Vancouver, only to learn that he’d been supporting the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club for years. Uncle How was a philanthropist, so I wasn’t surprised that he was supporting them, the surprise was that thousands of miles apart, we’d both been drawn to this local place where ALL kids belong. My youngest daughter Julia is now the third generation of Websters to belong at BGC, having volunteered in their Clubs, and then worked there as a summer fundraising intern.
There’s another interesting multi-generational connection between the Websters and BGC that I practically tripped over in 2008. My family, and the R. Howard Webster Foundation (established by my Uncle), had agreed to contribute the lead gift to build the new Surrey Club because it meant that a whole new neighbourhood of kids would get to belong. At the ribbon cutting, I was proud to be there with my family, helping to open the first new Club in the Lower Mainland in more than 20 years. When I walked through the doors, I was stopped in my tracks as I scanned the Club interior because it was like walking into a Toronto Blue Jays fan club, complete with logos and inspiring words wrapping the walls. You see, decades ago, it was my Uncle How, along with Labatt’s and CIBC, who brought the Blue Jays Baseball Club to Toronto. What I only came to understand that day in Surrey is that when the Jays Cares Foundation learned that we had invested in the Club, they decided to provide the final required funds to complete the project. That donation was the first major gift the Jays Cares Foundation made outside of the Greater Toronto Area. A circle closed by an historic first, for the best possible purpose!
To make this web of connections even more interesting, the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Club (an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays) are, independently, incredible partners and supporters of Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC in their own right. Tomorrow, when I throw out the first pitch at the Vancouver Canadians game where BGC is celebrating its 80th birthday, I’ll be thinking of how small the world can be.
At the end of the day, I think that my decade’s long relationship with BGC thrives because at BGC, every single kid matters. And while they’re always trying to reach more kids, that’s never at the expense of seeing each one as an individual. That philosophy/approach extends to the way they approach people like me, my Uncle How, Julia and my family. Because, you see, belonging matters to all of us!
– Peter W. Webster, BGC Bestie