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Boys & Girls Clubs celebrate 50 years of helping children in Billings area

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Posted at 9:10 AM, Jul 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-24 11:12:52-04

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County have provided a place for thousands of children after school since 1971.

The clubs, supporters and even some alumni celebrated the 50th anniversary at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center on Friday.

The band Free Spirit Soul played at the Be Great Ball.

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KTVQ photo

Last year, the annual fundraiser was among the last events held before COVID shutdowns.

This year it came back using the hotels' outdoor courtyard.

The event also raised funds with silent and live auctions.

Q2 anchor emeritus Jay Kohn served as the emcee.

Two of the original club members played in the band and came back for the big party.

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KTVQ photo

"It was important then," said Lloyd Marsh, who was a member starting in 1971. "I can only imagine how important it is to kids this day and age. A place to go, a place to hang, a place to meet with your other friends and stuff like that so I can imagine it's a really big deal for kids nowadays."

Marsh said he had many relatives who were also in the club.

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KTVQ photo

"My cousin Robin Martinez and we used to go hang out at the club together as well. And so Robin was also an original Club member," Marsh said.

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KTVQ photo

"All you have to do is go into the building after school when the kids are there and see what's going on," said David Stensrud, a former Boys & Girls Clubs foundation campaign chair. "If that doesn't touch your heartstrings I don't know what could."

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KTVQ photo

"Our original director Gordon (Eldredge) is here tonight," said Brian Dennis, president & CEO for clubs. "Gordon and his team created a wonderful experience for the kids, and that's something we really strive to continue and build upon and make sure that every time a kid walks through our doors, we provide the type of experience they need to find success."

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KTVQ photo

ln 1971, it was the Boys Club and started allowing girls in the late 1980's.

The Boys and Girls Clubs website has more on the anniversary.