The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield’s high school character and leadership program, the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club, has once again received national recognition from Boys & Girls Clubs of America. At this year’s National Keystone Conference, the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club won three national program awards.

In addition, Jeff Goncalves, Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield (BGCR) program director and the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club adviser, won the National Keystone Adviser of the Year award, after being nominated by the high school age teens in the Ridgefield keystone club. The award is presented annually, recognizing an adviser for efforts to help teens develop leadership skills to make a lasting impact on the world.

In 2018, Goncalves had been recognized as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Torch Club Adviser of the Year — Torch Club is the BGCR’s middle school character and leadership program.

“Over the past decade, the club has established one of the most recognized teen programs in the country, and Jeff has built upon that, developing them into the dynamic program they are today,” said Mike Flynn, the Ridgefield club’s chief executive officer. “He continues to bring our leadership programs and the club to new levels.

“We are grateful every day for the hard work and dedication he puts into making the club the special place it is and we are thrilled he is receiving the recognition he deserves. He is an amazing mentor to thousands of club kids, and we are lucky to have him in Ridgefield”

Going virtual

Goncalves and Keystone member Hailey Robson were selected to serve on the 2020 National Keystone Conference Steering Committee back in December. As a part of the committee, they traveled to Boys & Girls Club of America’s headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., for a planning weekend with 10 other Keystone members and their advisers from Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, in addition to participating in monthly conference calls and completing assignments leading up to the conference.

The conference was scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., but was changed to a virtual conference that took place in July.

“Jeff, Hailey and the entire steering committee persevered through a challenging situation and pulled together an amazing conference that connected over 2,500 teens and their advisers from Boys & Girls Clubs all across the country, and even overseas,” said Kristin Goncalves, associate executive director at the club. “We are so proud of both of them and could not ask for better representation of our Club.”

At the National Virtual Keystone Conference, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America awarded seven programmatic awards to Keystone clubs doing notable work in their clubs and communities. At this year’s conference, the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club won first place (best overall) in the National Project “Think. Feel. Do.” emotional wellness category, and took third place in the core areas of academic success and community outreach. They were also runners-up for the National Keystone Club of the Year.

With the addition of this year’s Best Overall National Project Award, the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club has won 18 awards in the past nine years.

Since 2011, the Ridgefield Tigers Keystone Club has won 13 National Programmatic Awards and 5 Northeast Regional Programmatic Awards. There are 4,800 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, and all Keystone Clubs are eligible for these awards.

For more information, contact Goncalves at jgoncalves@bgcridgefield.org or 203-438-8821, ext. 19.