'Club kid' takes over as director of Carnegie Boys & Girls Club
Juan Perez knows the ins and outs of Boys and Girls Clubs pretty well – he's been involved with them in some form since he was 14.
Now 38, Perez, the new director of the Carnegie Boys and Girls Club, said he wants to give area children the same chances that he was given.
“I was a club kid in New York and Massachusetts,” he said. “I've been with the club ever since.”
Perez said his mother enrolled him in the club when they moved to Massachusetts when he was 14. She wanted him to “stay out of trouble,” he said.
One of his main goals in Carnegie, he said, is to introduce more teen programs.
“Teens are the ones that often slip through the cracks,” he said. “We have a great sports program, and I want to keep that. But I want to implement more, too.”
He said teens are especially at risk for problems because they're at a crossroads in their lives.
“There are so many things pulling them in different directions,” Perez said. “This is something positive to pull them in.”
Perez said he wants to keep the “same high-quality programs” that his predecessor, longtime club director Lou Trombetta, put into place. Trombetta retired in May.
“I want it to be a seamless transition,” he said. “I want parents to come in and see the same quality programs.”
The club has 600 to 800 members at any given time, and between 120 and 150 attend per day.
Perez said he already is in talks with Carnegie police about organizing a kickball game between the police and kids at the club.
“It gives them something to do, plus it gives them a positive perception of the police,” he said.
From one-room clubs furnished with only a foosball table to clubs that had their own skate parks, Perez said he hopes his experiences at a wide array of clubs will help him reach out to a diverse group of children. Most recently, he directed a club in Duquesne.
“I know the kind of trouble I was headed for,” he said. “Those are the pitfalls kids face. When there's nothing to do in a positive manner, they'll find something to do and it isn't always good.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.