A change in management at Queens nonprofit has led to number of perks for community members who use their Astoria facility. NY1's Angi Gonzalez spoke with the organization's new executive director on what he's done and his plans for the future.
The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens has been a staple in the Astoria community for six decades.
In the last year and half, the organization has seen a shift with the hiring of Matthew Troy as the club's new executive director.
"He really radically started to change the vision," said Andrea Mungo, a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club.
To do that, Troy went to work immediately in the hopes of getting volunteers and members on board with his plans.
"This could be a better place. We could have better programing," Troy recalled telling them.
Members tell NY1 that Troy has succeeded in that mission.
"It's just a huge, huge difference," member Annie Sharak said.
Word has spread about the changes.
Troy told NY1 the club's membership grew to an all-time high in 2016. In that time membership grew by 54 percent.
Troy credits the quality of club's programs with the spike, adding that the cost of a membership is another draw.
"This is a very expensive city to live in. The fact that we offer affordable yet high-quality programs, pretty much all week, that's a huge asset," Troy said.
The club's after-school program costs just $8 a month and offers participants the chance to explore everything from the arts to athletics.
Kids can spend up to four hours a day participating in after-school programs. They get help with their homework, a meal and then get to take part in several other activities like art or athletics.
They are opportunities that came to fruition because of an increase in funding over the last 16 months.
“Our budget also rose by 20 percent, and that allowed us to hire a huge increase in staff," Troy said.
Financial support for the club and its programs come from a wide range of sources, including contributors like City Councilman Costa Constantinides.
"Over 200 kids every day are having a place to come do art, come do dance, come do science,” Constantinides said.
Troy has now set his sights on another expansion.
"We're looking to build a whole new club three times the size of this one," Troy said.
The project is still in the works but could mean a brighter future for a club that Troy hopes will be around for another 60 years.