Clifton Merchant Magazine - January 2024

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Introducing Gabriel Blau CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Clifton By Tom Hawrylko Gabe Blau got his first Taste of Clifton in mid-December when he visited Mario’s and tried the Emma-style pie with peppers, onions and bacon. His verdict: That’s a Clifton Classic! Just like Mario’s, Blau is taking over a Clifton Classic. And like a wise and seasoned chef, he is not going to mess with that recipe. Not just yet. “There are so many moving parts. My immediate goal is to completely understand and maintain what we have, get to know the team that makes it all work,” said Blau, a strategist and fundraiser with over two decades of leadership experience in the nonDolores Healey, who was the Executive Director of The Club from 1986 to 2006, with profit and for-profit sectors. retired CEO Bob Foster, who served from 2006 to 2023, and incoming CEO Gabe Blau. The Boys & Girls Club has Teens are a priority. “Some of the most exciting work evolved immensely since its swim and gym founding in a happening right now is around the engagement and emformer Botany Village tavern in 1947. powerment of high school age members, a growing number With the purchase in 1958 of it present location, 820 of which are coming to The Club after school,” he wrote. Clifton Ave., The Club continued to grow and expand and The Club’s mission has evolved in many ways since then outgrow the space again. Over the decades, there have those gym and swim days. In 2024, it is about getting Clifbeen various additions to the main building—an aquatics ton kids future ready, focusing on college and life after center, more classrooms, pre-school space and more. high school. “We are also looking to an expansion of the But today, in a city of nearly 90,000 residents, The Club programming experiences all of our youth members have is in need of more space. It continues to innovate and partaccess to,” he said, noting classes in dance, art, coding, nership, offering academic and athletic programs Mondays community service and career development are offered. to Fridays at 13 Clifton schools. In July and August, The Blau’s mission is to maintain, program and grow all of Club offers a full-day summer camp. In the Martini Aquatthat. With his team and the Board of Directors, they annuics Center, over 2,500 people learned to swim in 2023. ally raise the funds from our community and beyond to pay So many moving parts indeed. “Our clubhouse and 13 for those services. This winter, he’ll be reaching out to us school sites are packed,” said Blau, via email. “That’s an all, sharing how The Club will continue its never-ending exciting sign of the importance and relevance of our proevolution, articulating the ways it will meet the needs of grams. My job is to continue the work of my predecessors Clifton’s youth today, and help them on their way to great Bob, and his predecessor, Dolores, in keeping service to futures tomorrow. Let’s join Gabe in his mission. Clifton’s youth at the heart of all that we do.”


January 2024 •

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