BOSTON, MA —– Queenie Santos was born and raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts in the Columbia Point Housing Project which now is home to Harbor Point– the same community she has worked over the past two decades. Queenie’s mother is still a resident of Harbor Point and belongs to this beautiful diverse community which now houses our Walter Denney Youth Center, one of our three sites in Dorchester.
It was 28 years ago that Queenie was first introduced to Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD), when she signed her son up to become a member. She became a very involved parent and saw firsthand what wonderful work and programs were offered at the Club. An opportunity soon arose for an Assistant Teen Director position at the Club which Queenie was offered. She was hesitant at first but loved the Club and staff so agreed to take on the position for one year. Now 25 years later she is still employed at BGCD as the Walter Denney Youth Center Unit Director, having made a lasting and necessary impact on the lives of thousands of children and families who have grown to rely on her caring, compassionate and loving nature.
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Queenie simply replies, “the kids.” She describes that there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t learn something new from them, declaring they are always opening her eyes to new things. Queenie emphasizes the feeling of inclusion that exists for Club members, but that this is not only important for the children, but for the parents and families. “The feeling of being part of something and being able to connect with others in your community who can offer their support and friendship adds so much value to everything else that goes on at the Club,” she says. “The kids depend on their parents to keep them safe,” and giving parents support and an opportunity to truly be involved in their children’s lives and to watch them grow into productive citizens is part of what makes BGCD undeniably unique.
Being part of the Club for so many years has given Queenie an invaluable perspective on the growth and changes it continues to undergo today. She says she could not have imagined the level of expansion and enhancement it has seen over the years. While she considers membership at BGCD priceless, Queenie also notes her gratefulness for the affordability the Club is able to maintain, keeping its membership fee at only $5 per year per child. Aside from directly serving the youth in her care, Queenie invests time in building resources the Club can use to continue to evolve and reach even more children in a positive and meaningful way, whether this be through educational programs, community service opportunities or even where families can find affordable shelter and housing.
Queenie quickly thinks of the staff when asked what she considers to be the best thing about working at the Club. She characterizes how they are really more like a family than just coworkers, stating, “We care about each other, no matter what we’re going through.” She adds, “My kids and my grandkids come to work with me every day, and I can’t imagine anything better than that. They grow and they learn with me. That’s special.”
Queenie has become an important fixture at Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester and we remain grateful for the contributions she makes here and to the children and families of Dorchester.