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Boys and Girls Club of Tucson

The Boys and Girls Club of Tucson is making waves in the community! What's in store for them next?

From a 6-year-old member of the Boys and Girls Club in Washington, D.C. to the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, Denise Watters is using her past to create a positive influence on the future.

Overseeing six locations and 2,686 members, Watters is dedicated to providing every child that walks through the clubhouse doors with opportunities to achieve success. Most of the members, she said, come from low-income or single-parent households. A $20 membership cost provides children with hot meals, homework help and a variety of programs to fill their schedules. 

What isn’t included in that cost is the priceless bond between club members and staff. 

One child, a boy named David, completely embodied this special relationship while attending a Boys and Girls Club event. Watters said that she was getting ready to speak in front of the crowd when David came up to her. Unsure of what to expect, she said that David asked her if she was nervous and wanted to check in on her.

“They’ve become part of the extended family,” Watters said.

Watters' eyes lit up as she explained that David wants to be a vet when he grows up. A Boys and Girls Club field trip to Reid Park Zoo ignited his newfound interest.

The zoo visit barely scratches the surface of the learning experiences offered by the Boys and Girls Club. Watters said that children are exposed to all avenues through the 40-plus list of programs, and that list continues to grow.

The academically-driven programs hold a special place in Watters’s heart and the effects of those programs extend beyond the children’s membership period. Watters highlighted the EXCEL program, where members earn money for bringing in good grades on their report cards. The money is kept in an account until they graduate, giving them a safety net for their future plans. 

She said that programs like EXCEL motivate the children to take pride in their schoolwork and open the door for any path they want to pursue. All options, from college to trade school, are shared, and members are even able to take trips to tour college campuses. 

97% of members are expected to graduate high school, according to the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson impact report.

Many members return to the Boys and Girls Club as volunteers, Watters said. By focusing on alumni, herself included, she works to set an example for current members that they can achieve their goals through the Boys and Girls Club.

“It just gives them that motivation and inspiration,” Watters said. 

The powerful effects of the Boys and Girls Club have sparked a large community involvement in the organization. A hockey deck was recently donated and installed on their grounds, giving the children yet another opportunity to discover their passion. From donations to volunteering, the Tucson community has rallied around the services each clubhouse provides.

“That’s really a testament to how the community gets involved with us,” Watters said.

Looking towards the future, big things are in store! Multiple new projects have entered the planning phase as one of their clubhouses gets ready to celebrate its 65th anniversary. Clubhouse attendance has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and their annual Thanksgiving dinner is just around the corner.

Watters said that she has a lot of gratitude for the Tucson community. Every investment made by the community is doubled when a child has access to education and opportunities they may never have received. 

“If we didn’t have the donors the sponsors and the grants, we wouldn’t be able to reach the Davids of the world,” Watters said.

For information about how to sign your child up for the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, or how to join as a volunteer, visit their website at