The Older Members’ Association is a unique alumni and volunteer organization that has been an integral part of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club for almost 100 years.
The purpose of the Older Members’ Association is to help youth develop and grow as well as further the aims and purpose of the Club.
Since the beginning, the OM’s have contributed nearly one million dollars and tens of thousands of hours of labor, willingly donated to the Bristol Boys and Girls Club and its members.
They have put their hearts into the Club’s mission and brought their ideas and enthusiasm for hard work and service to the Club.
In 1907, Jennie Peck and her friends saw a need to begin a club for boys. This church society agreed to start a boys club headed by its first president, Mrs. C. F. Barnes. All volunteers ran the club on North Main Street. In 1912, the club hired its first full time superintendent, Pop Dillon and had a membership of 50 boys. In 1914, the club joined the Boys Club Federation. 1918 saw the club moving to the Old Town Hall where it stayed until its current location at 105 Laurel Street was completed on February 12, 1929.
The Older Members’ Association was organized in 1923. In the early years, there was no provision for young boys reaching the age of 18, or graduating from high school to remain active members of the Club. Four young men, having reached the age of 18, had a strong desire to assist James “Chief” Dobson, then superintendent of the Bristol Boys Club, by volunteering their time with many of the Club’s activities. In order to fulfill their desire, Chief Dobson founded the organization we now know as The Older Members’ Association.
The first four young men to become Charter Members were J. Herbert Carlson, Harold A. Cook, Francis King and Mel White. Mr. Dobson picked out twenty-five older boys whom he knew were leaders and had been a member of the Boys Club for at least five years. The first meeting of the organization was held on November 8, 1923 and dues were set at 10¢ per week and the cost of supper was 15¢.The initial purpose of the group was to help boys understand community affairs and aid the younger boys in coaching, managing and transportation.
The organization started in small way but gained momentum as the years rolled on. At the end of the first year, there was a sum of $17 on hand in the treasury. From this balance, a gift of $15 was made to the Community Chest.
The Older Members have always contributed generously to other organizations. Whether it be civic or national, this group has always given a helping hand toward every good cause.
Transcript of Minutes of the First Meeting for the Organization – November 8, 1923
The weekly meeting of this club was held on Thursday evening, November 8, at 6 P.M. in the Boys Club. A supper was served by Mrs. F. B. Scudder of the Women’s Auxilliary and was enjoyed by all present.
After supper a nominating committee, appointed by Mr. Dobson brought in a list of names for officers for the ensuing year. Those elected were, President, Thomas Brannick; Vice President, Herbert Carlson: Secretary, Melvin White: Treasurer, Harry Burns. Our President then took charge of the meeting.
It was then motioned, seconded and voted on to tax dues on the members of the club, the small amount of ten cents (10¢) per week. The dues are to be paid immediately after the supper of each meeting. The President then appointed a committee to establish by-laws and a constitution governing the club. Those appointed were Harold Cook, William Cavalier and Frank Given. The name of the club was left to be voted on at the following meeting. The members of the club then discussed different local matters concerning the welfare of the club for the remainder of the meeting.
Adjournment at 7P.M.
M.E. White, Sec’y
The OM’s have continued with the traditions of each member paying dues and meeting on a regular basis with supper still being served.
The Older Members were well represented in the Armed Forces of our Country in World War II. Every rank was bestowed on some Older Member from Private to Lt. Colonel. During this period, those who manned the home front of this group provided man power to the Club to replace the shortage of supervisors and instructors brought on by war. The Older Members also took part in the financing and participation of Bristol’s Air Craft Warning Station on Chippens Hill.
The OM’s continued to be represented honorably in Korea, Viet Nam and the Gulf Wars.
During its first 25 years, the Association achieved much success. From the total of $17 raised in that first year through card parties to over $3000 raised each year from raffles, auctions and the annual show. The level of fund raising increased throughout the years as did the variety of fund raising events. And it continues today.
Several of the fundraising and support activities the OM have been responsible for are worth mentioning further.