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 successfully founded 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...
Hey there alumni of “The Bay” !!
We miss you and we want to hear from you. There are many thousands of you and not enough of you are in touch with us. And that’s not your fault. We haven’t reached out to you often enough or loudly enough. That changes now.
To get started, please tell us how Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club impacted your life.
We want to share your story here and hopefully we can impact someone else's life just as positive as we have impacted yours. Keep in touch with us either through e-mail or become a fan of ours and share your pictures and quick stories on facebook. Your support for "The Bay" is very important to us, and the reason we are still able to serve the 11,000 kids that we do today throughout our 10 sites in the Bronx.
Always great to hear from our Alumni.
GREETINGS TO THE BEST BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB
Aloha Kip’s Bay Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Bronx Chapter Staff,
My name is Efrem Williams and I am an Alumni to the Randall Avenue Club, from 1972.
As I sit at my desk here in Kabul, Afghanistan a thought and fond memory moment occurred, and I thought about my youth and the great times. Many of those special and wonderful moments happened right there at the Randall avenue club house.
Fast forward to present, my completed career in the U.S. military and now as a government contractor and +20yr resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, I would like to say Thank you to all the personnel past, present, and future for their dedicated service to our community.
I grew up just up the street from Kip’s Bay, in the Soundview Housing projects, when it was much different back then from what it is now. However, the Boys and Girls club still served as a fantastic outlet for activities designed to help kids to grow in positive directions.
In closing, I hope to visit the Bronx one day soon and in doing so, make a stop to the club and just say Thank You again.
Sr. VTC Engineer
Special Forces Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan
Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club changed my life in many ways. Several of my family members and I were members of Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club when it was Kips Bay Boys Club. It was there that we learned to swim, to dance, team work, how to find our inner creative and much more from the very supportive and dedicated counselors. Now I've been provided the opportunity to give back by volunteering as a mentor for at- risk children. I also just became the on-camera spokesperson for Childfund International Children's Charity. It means the world to me to be able to speak on behalf of millions of children in need around the world.
I want to say a very special thanks to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for being there for us kids when we needed you in our neighborhood, for providing a safe and supportive environment, and for what your program has helped us become today.
Respectfully, Evelyn Vaccaro
Evelyn Vaccaro TV Host/Actor/On-Camera Spokesperson for Childfund International
When I joined the swim team I learned how to be a team player and the importance of helping others achieve their goals for the betterment of the team. When I joined the karate club I learned what discipline is and how to push myself harder. I was lucky to receive a partial scholarship from the clubhouse, to the Princeton Education Center in Blairstown, NJ. They called it the Princeton Challenge and its focus was to help the individuals challenge themselves on a personal level and in a team environment through various activities like hiking, rappelling and rock climbing.
During my time as a camper I saved a little boy from drowning. I would not have had the opportunity to save this little boy had it not been for Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club's scholarship program. I later was invited to join their leadership team as a junior instructor and received a stipend for my efforts. It instilled in me a sense of community and as a result I volunteered at the clubhouse whenever I could. In 1985 I would receive the clubhouse's most prestigious award, Girl of the Year, a great honor for me. I am greatly indebted to Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club for the various lessons it taught me, the safe environment it provided me to grow in, the friendships I made as a result, and the supportive leadership it extended. My life would be very different if I did not have the clubhouse as a refuge during my youth.
All the best,
Thank you so much!