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Logan Circle’s Kingman Boys & Girls Club Faces Concerns For its Future

By Ben Lasky*

[Note: Photographs accompanying this news story can be viewed in the current issue PDF.]

On June 25th, the Kingman Boys and Girls Club, located just north of P Street on Kingman Place a half block west of Logan Circle, celebrated its 42nd anniversary. While many Kingman alumni showed up for the event, members of the Logan Circle community fear that the organization may not be around for much longer.

Aaron Webster, Kingman’s executive director, has been with the organization since 1970, the year following its opening. Some are concerned that when Webster eventually retires the organization will shut down.

However, there is also some discussion that Kingman may decide to recommend a change of location. “We do have an endowment that we have invested and we might be looking at a bigger building in a neighborhood where there’s a need,” said Webster. He also noted, however, that the majority of the board members would like to keep the organization in the current building.

According to Charles Reed, the chairman of the Logan Circle ANC and a former board member, moving the organization may not be a bad idea. “That would be a good thing, in my judgment,” said Reed. “The reason that it would be good is not because I object to the program being here, it’s just that the clients of the club don’t live around here. Most of them are bused in. It would be useful for the club to be nearer to the kids that it serves so that they can have easier access.”

If Kingman were to close down, there is no doubt that a lot of people would be upset. For some alumni it represents a place that pointed them towards successful lives. For others it represents a second home.

The latter is true of Travis Allen, a Kingman alumnus who now serves on the board of directors. “I spent more time at Kingman than I did anywhere else,” said Allen. “I came here every day after school because they picked me up from school even though my school wasn’t that close to the club. I had homework time and then they would drop me off at home in time for dinner so that my mother could work a full day – so Kingman was everything.”

According to Webster, what sets Kingman apart from other boys and girls Clubs in the city is the emphasis that the organization places on education. “Out of thousands of kids I know at least anywhere from four or five hundred have gone on and gotten their bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and we have a couple that are working on their doctorate degrees.”

Education has been the main focus of Kingman since Richard L. Peters founded the organization in 1968. While rioting was occurring on 7th and 14th Streets and around the city following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Peters put up some basketball hoops and passed out basketballs in what is now the Kingman Boys and Girls Club with the hope that playing basketball would keep kids from causing destruction in the city. With that, the club was founded.

Ask anyone at Kingman and they will tell you about the impact Peters had not only in Logan Circle, but the city as a whole.

Peters’ son Kevin is now the head of the Kingman board and knows first-hand the impact his father had: “A lot of them that weren’t here got into trouble. We had some alumni that spoke last week who said that a lot of them had friends who were dead or in jail. His passion was, I think, that he really wanted to have a part of his life that was service-oriented; and he really saw the potential in people, and he didn’t want to write off this area.”

If Kingman does shut down someday, there are many who will be disappointed and many who will miss out on a great opportunity. Kingman has been a life-changing organization for lots of children. Allen remarked, “If these kids have half the experience that I did here, then I know it’s a good experienc

*Ben Lasky, a contributing writer for The InTowner, is also a staff writer for the The American University’s student newspaper, The Eagle while he pursues his degree in communications and journalism at AU.

Copyright (c) 2010 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Ben Lasky. All rights reserved.