Manny Villafana attended Kips Bay’s last Manhattan Clubhouse on East 52nd Street. He traveled there from his home in the Bronx. Desperately poor, his father died when he was 10, and his mothers sewed garments in a sweat shop. Despite these obstacles, Manny went on to found six publicly held companies that developed and manufactured pacemakers and heart valves.
A very generous donor to Kips Bay, Mr. Villafana retains a life long gratitude for his Kips Bay experience. He expressed it this way in a 1969 letter:
It was just yesterday that I was commenting with a friend of mine
on my early years in your Boys’ Club... I told him that a Boys’
Club was made up of men, of men who would build the character
in the boys... of men trying to be fathers for those, like myself, who
did not have a father...
I told him that a Boys’ Club was a summer of fun... I told him that
a Boys’ Club meant learning new skills at camp... I told him that
a Boys’ Club was a molder of youth...
The wonderful young actress who gave such a strong and dignified portrayal of Ray Charles’ beleaguered wife in the movie “Ray”, was a club member at Kips Bay in the early 90’s. Ms. Washington demonstrates, brilliantly, the capacity of our arts program to help launch youngsters of real talent and commitment to impressive careers.
In truth, we were not aware of Kerry until she began,most graciously, to mention us in the media. Ms. Washington was in the dance program, but not the more visible K-Company. Still, our dance program, with its professional instruction leading to the impressive annual recital that we call “Broadway Babies”, was a powerful boost to the youthful artist. In 2005 she e-emailed us from Africa - where she was filming - to express her appreciation for the experience she had here. In 2007 Kerry served a Co-Chair of our 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Performing Arts at Kips Bay. While her busy filming schedule kept her from attending the event, she made a video for the occasion. Her parents did attend to accept our award in recognition of her many accomplishments and as a spotless role model for young people.
This mega star credits the Kips Bay Boys & GirlsClub in the Bronx, N.Y., with helping her get started in the entertainment industry. It was at the Club that Lopez honed her skills as a performer. "The staff recognized a spark of performing potential in me, and brought that spark alive," she says. "Soon I was singing and dancing in regular Club performances and before long was part of the Club's traveling troupe." After getting her start as a dancer on the TV show In LivingColor, Lopez landed the title role in the feature film Selena, which officially launched her into superstardom. She has since starred in dozens of feature films, while at the same time managing her award-winning singing career. Today, she is known as one of the nation's top female performers. "I can honestly say I don't know where I'd be today without the Club," says Lopez. "Thanks to Boys & Girls Clubs from the bottom of my heart, for all you have done for me,and for so many others."
Former NBA Player/Assistant Basketball Coach, Villanova University
Born in 1963, Ed Pinckney grew up in the Bronx, N.Y.,and attended the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, because,he recalls, he wanted to avoid playing basketball outdoors during the cold winters there. After honing his skills at the Club, Pinckney was accepted at Villanova University and became one of the finest basketball players in the school's history. During his time there, the Wildcats captured the university's only NCAA championship title.A number one draft choice of the Phoenix Suns in 1985,Pinckney spent 12 years in the National Basketball Association. Following his retirement in 1997, Pinckney joined the Miami Heat organization as part of its broadcasting team. Coming full circle, he returned to Villanova in 2003 as an assistant basketball coach. Reflecting on his Club experience, Pinckney says, "The Club helped us establish a fantastic foundation in athletics.It was just an incredible experience for me and my family."
Boys & Girls Club Professional
Ten-year-old Danny Quintero walked into Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in 1970 and, truly, never left the Movement. At “The Bay” he began a life long love of baseball that led to a stint in professional baseball, followed by a return to Boys & Girls Clubs, first at Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, followed by the Northeast Regional Office. In December 1996 Dan returned to Kips Bay, the first Bronx native and first alumnus to lead the organization. His tenure has been characterized by sustained growth, in membership, venues of service,and program innovation. From a 1996 membership of 5,559 and 4 sites, Kips Bay grew, by the end of FY06, to 12,910 members at 10 sites, including new service delivery at two homeless shelters and two public housing projects.Program innovation includes teen entrepreneurial project learning, and obesity prevention, funded, in part,through Kips Bays’ first federal grant through Congressman Crowley. In 2002 the Frederic R. Coudert Sports Complex was constructed on the Palmaro Clubhouse grounds. Construction of an 11th service venue, our future West Bronx Clubhouse, is expected to begin in the fall of 2007. Championed by Bronx Borough President Carrion, the future Clubhouse will be a state-of-the-art e-technology youth development facility.