By Angeljean Chiaramida STAFF WRITER
Newburyport Daily News
---- — The Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley will celebrate the organization’s best year ever, while working to raise the money to support its future work during a rock ’n’ roll fundraiser featuring the local band Beatlejuice tomorrow at Blue Ocean Music Hall at Salisbury Beach.
With headquarters at Maple Street in Salisbury, the Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Merrimack Valley serves families in Newburyport, Amesbury, Salisbury, Newbury, West Newbury, Rowley, Byfield and Merrimac, as well as other surrounding communities.
In addition to the concert by Beatlejuice, the fundraiser will include the presentation of the club’s annual awards to an outstanding youth, adult, business and volunteer.
The popular Beatles cover band will take the stage at 8 p.m. The local band, formed in 1994 after Brad Delp, former singer with the band Boston, and John Muzzy saw a Beatles tribute band in Newburyport and decided to start their own. When Delp took his own life in 2007, the band continued as Beatlejuice and Friends.
Today, there can be as many as seven performers onstage during the shows. In addition to Muzzy, the band includes keyboardist/guitarist Steve Baker, bassist and Newburyport resident Joe Holaday and guitarist Dave Mitchell. It also features Rich Bartlett and Brian Dixey on acoustic guitar, percussionist Evan Gianoulis and vocalists Mike Girard, Jimmy Rogers, Buddy Bernard and Bob Jennings.
According to Boys and Girls Club executive director Jim Keenan, membership increased by about 37 percent over the past year, as the club served 420 youth in 2012 compared to 306 in 2011.
Daily attendance in the club’s after-school program rose from 70 kids per day to 80, he said, and summer camp daily figures soared to 81 attendees a day this year compared to 54 in 2011.
Those are the best statistics in the club’s 11-year history, said Keenan, who believes the rise in participation stems primarily from an improvement in the quality of programs offered at the club.
“In 2011, we took a step back to take a look at all the programs and activities we were offering our members,” Keenan said. “We wanted to be able to make the biggest impact we possibly can on our members and offer them programs where they can take these skills that they learn at the club and use them outside the club.”
Using the Boys and Girls Club of America’s “Formula for Impact” approach, club officials reworked offerings to provide age-appropriate programs built around achieving academic success, good character and healthy lifestyles.
“We also looked at our staff to see that we had the right people in each program,” Keenan said. “We hired new staff and recruited some quality volunteers who now oversee our photography, math mentoring and dance programs. Programming was the key piece, as well as significantly improving our facility to make it more appealing to today’s youth.”
Among the popular new programs have been robotics, science exploration, digital arts, theater, dance and gardening. This year, more new features come into play, he said, including model building and woodworking, sewing, puppetry, family nights, art mentoring, music composition and animation on iMacs, as well as cooking basics with the 99 Restaurant and new programs geared toward girls.
The money raised from the Beatlejuice fundraiser will underwrite the costs of providing these popular programs for the club’s members, Keenan said.
Keenan also believes the slow economy contributed to the increase in student participation at the club, as parents looked for affordable ways to provide their children with a safe place to spend time while outside of school.
Only 6 percent of the club’s annual budget comes from the $25 membership fee that families pay annually. More than 36 percent comes from fundraising efforts and donations, and 57 percent is funded by grants.
During the past year, the club awarded $79,000 in scholarships that paid for club membership, vacation and summer camp, field trips and special events for 107 youth, so a child is never turned away due to a financial inability to pay.
IF YOU GO
What: Beatlejuice fundraiser for Boys and Girls Club
When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Blue Ocean Music Hall, 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury
How: $25 per person. Tickets are available online at www.blueoceanmusichall.com, or may ordered through the Boys and Girls Club website at BGCLMV.org.