SALISBURY — The Boys & Girls Club of Lower Merrimack Valley's new capital campaign found itself $130,000 richer after former Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque and a pair of local business owners made generous donations to the cause Thursday morning.
For the 18 years that the local club has been running, it's made its home at the former Salisbury Memorial School.
But the Eisenhower era building is in need of substantial renovation and the club kicked off the public phase of its three-year, $1 million capital campaign by hosting a Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry breakfast meeting on Thursday.
Bourque was the guest speaker and told the crowd of roughly 150 Chamber members that his Bourque Family Foundation will be donating $30,000 to the Boys & Girls Club’s capital campaign.
“When kids come to a place like this, you never know who you're going to meet and who is going to be able to influence them and make a difference in their lives," he said.
And on top of that, Ralph Castagna announced that he and Wayne Capolupo were making a joint pledge of $100,000, which brings the total campaign account to $400,000. Castagna is the president and CEO of Castagna Construction Corp. and the vice chairman of the Boys & Girls Club’s board of directors.
"I can't even begin to count all the ways in which this club is a virtue to, not just Salisbury, but the Greater Salisbury area as well," said Capolupo, who is the chairman and CEO of SPS New England Inc.
He went on to remind the crowd that idle hands are the devil's workshop.
"The threats which face our youth of today dwarf what most of us in this room grew up with just one generation ago," Capolupo said. "With all of these internet predators and opportunities for substance-related issues at earlier ages, it is downright scary. So, the ability of parents to have a place to send their children where they know they will be safe and well-supervised, it's something that just can't even begin to be quantified."
Bourque, a Stanley Cup champion and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, played 21 seasons for the Bruins. He went on to say Thursday that his career was spent striving constantly for perfection.
"I was looking to be perfect, every single day, knowing that I would never reach it," he said. "I played with guys that were looking for perfection and wouldn't have reached it and would be down in the dumps. For me, it only made it better. I strived to be as perfect as I could be, even though I would never reach that. That made me the best that I could be, every single day."
It wasn't until he retired that Bourque, who lives in Boxford, said he was able to step back, look at his career and give himself a pat on the back.
"While I was playing, I never wanted it to end," Bourque said. "I always wanted to get better and, once you get to the top of the mountain, in terms of talent and that reach, now it's a matter of maintaining that level. I took a lot of pride in being as consistent as I was for that amount of years and that is what I am most proud of."
Bourque continued to preach preparation.
"My planning and my preparation, my perseverance and my passion I brought every single day to the rink," he said. "When you have your best players approach it that way, like the Bruins have right now with (Zdeno) Chara, (Patrice) Bergeron and (Brad) Marchand, those three guys and how they approach the game and how they prepare, what a sight for them to see every single day for the rest of the team.
"When your best players are your best people, in how they prepare, you're in business," he said. "That is how life is run, not only in sports but that is in life. That is in business. That is in everything."
Asked who will win the Stanley Cup next spring, Bourque had a predictable answer.
"With the Bruins' start right now, I know that they'll get back there," he said. "It's very impressive what they've been able to do so far this year. When you think about how it ended last year, with as good of a finish as they got to in that seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals, after losing in their own building in Games 5 and 7, that can be very, very hard to swallow. But it just shows what kind of motivation they have in terms of their players, coaches and management."
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.