Gene Slays’ Boys Club of St. Louis, which has been providing outstanding service to boys throughout St. Louis for many years, receives this year’s Community Service Award.

The club opened in 1929 and has served as a beacon for boys who find, as the motto states, “A place to go, a place to grow.” It was the first officially affiliated Boy’s Club in Missouri. Slay took over the reins in 1993.

“While a young sports editor of the Suburban Journals in 1973, I was honored to receive special recognition for articles I wrote about the club then run by another great man, Ken Wild, and his partner Ralph Stephenson,” said Slay. “I was impressed with the club’s influence on the lives of young boys.”

The club has about 800 card-holding members. Yet between sporting leagues and visitors, that number jumps to about 7,000 boys, ages 6 to 18. For $20 a year, the children have access to a gym, video game room, craft room, weight room, indoor pool and outdoor track and field. They can also take any class or participate in any sports league.

The mission of the Gene Slay’s Boys’ Club of St. Louis is to enable boys in the St. Louis area, especially those in most need, to realize their physical, intellectual, and emotional potential.

Larry Liszewski, program director, has been a staff member since 1978 He remembers carrying his gold card with pride when he first came to the club at age 8.

At the club, a boy’s membership card is his ticket to renting equipment and, of course, getting inside. Liszewski said it teaches the children responsibility to keep track of their cards.

The club offers house league sports, which are the foundation of the facility’s athletic programs. The leagues include baseball, basketball, flag football, indoor soccer, floor hockey, kickball and softball. The club provides all of the equipment, including uniforms.

“Mothers love us because we even do the laundry” for the uniforms, Liszewski said.

Besides the family-oriented environment inside the club, Liszewski said they also try to build strong relations within the community. The kids and volunteers clean up the local parks and get involved with other service projects as a way to be part of the community.