NEW HAVEN — Three local Boys & Girls Clubs joined city and town officials Tuesday for a press conference to discuss the clubs’ recent merger under a new name — Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater New Haven.
Newly appointed CEO Lisa M. Caruso said although Tuesday marked her fifth day at her position, that isn’t going to slow her down with making changes to better serve the children in the newly joined Wallingford, North Haven, and New Haven clubs.
“With this merger comes new opportunities to grow the organization and to grow it outside Wallingford, North Haven and New Haven. I think the merger is a great idea,” Caruso said.
For now, Caruso said she would step back and listen to what the people have to say. From there, she will set forth her vision and plans to get there, she said.
The merger announced in a press release on Monday was finalized on July 1, club officials said.
According to Caruso, the clubs will have a $2 million annual budget. This would include about 10 full-time staff and dozens of part-time workers, she said.
Tammie Ulbrich, vice president of strategic initiatives for the board of directors, said the clubs currently serve about 1,000 children each day at the six sites and hope to double that number by next year.
“I’m very excited about the merger, and I’m very close to the club in North Haven,” North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said. “They made me aware that this collaboration between North Haven and New Haven will add stability and services throughout the years for the community.”
Freda said the services go beyond the municipal borders and that the collaboration with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker will see more services to help the kids in the community.
“My father was a factory worker, and every year, he would make one charitable donation, and that was all we as a family could afford. It was to the Boys & Girls Club,” Freda said.
As a child, Freda approached his father, saying he noticed the donation being made. His father was surprised that, at such a young age, he would even recognize that.
“The Boys and Girls Club of New Haven made such an impact and kept me on the right track. It also provided us with the services that I needed and we as a family desperately needed,” Freda said of a conversation he had with his father.
Freda said he never forgot that conversation with his father and mentioned that he never imagined growing up as a town official and working with Tammie Ulbrich. He also mentioned working with other elected officials and state representatives and now collaborating with the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“I am very grateful to be here and part of this merger,” Freda said. “I hope that it will continue to have the same impact with these boys and girls as it did with my father.”
Tracine Allen, 14, a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater New Haven, shared with the audience Tuesday how she has been a club member since she was six years old. She spoke about how she has made lots of memories with people at the club and created bonds with her peers, also including the staff.