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South Boston Boys and Girls Club celebrated at annual luncheon

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 7, 2013 07:25 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)


In Video: City Councilor Bill Linehan and the former State Senator Jack Hart serenade Thursday's diners.


As attendees settled into their chairs at the 37th-Annual South Boston Boys and Girls Club St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon Thursday, they celebrated not only new beginnings for club members, but for the host, the former State Senator Jack Hart.

Hart, who resigned in January to take a position with the law firm Nelson Mullins, has hosted twelve of the luncheons during his tenure and Thursday’s was his last.

“The Boys and Girls Club asked me to host one last time, being a club kid myself I was delighted to help,” said Hart, who joined the House in 1996 and later the Senate in 2002. “I fell a little melancholy about it, but we’ll have some fun today.”

Like every year, the luncheon at Anthony's pier 4 along the growing South Boston Waterfront, draws some of Boston’s top elected officials including Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A testing ground for jokes before the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, politicians try out their best material gauging audience reaction.

City Councilor Bill Linehan will be the breakfast’s host this year, a post that Hart also held for a number years. The Councilor gave it his best shot Thursday, receiving both applause and chuckles from the crowd as he impersonated Hart and spoke about his time at the club.

Although many came for the corned beef and entertainment, it was the West Sixth Street club that really brought the community together for the event.

“The support is really endearing and it means a lot to us,” said Harry Duvall, the executive director of the South Boston Boys and Girls Club.

Upwards of $60,000 was raised at Thursday’s luncheon. The money will directly benefit the club, an anchor for generations of South Boston residents.

“We look at the club as a community resource,” said Duvall. “We try to build upon what the kids are learning at home and in school. We’re all about building up the strengths.”

The luncheon is also an opportunity for the club to highlight its youth members, who have shown dedication to both the club and the surrounding community.

“For myself I can sum up what the club means for me: opportunity, family, and community,” Genevieve Norton, a 17-year-old club member and junior staffer told the crowd.

Norton, a second generation club member and senior at Boston Latin Academy, delivered Thursday's keynote speech. She touched on both the importance of the club and how it makes her look at her own community.

“We’re a small community and we welcome anyone,” Norton said.

Josh Kraft, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, also took the opportunity to break the news that the club will receive a $10-million dollar renovation.

"The club has been such a beacon it's an honor to renovate it," Kraft said as he reminisced about working at the club in the 1990s .

Though the luncheon might have had its serious moments as politicians bombed jokes, traded barbs about the upcoming elections, and chuckled about Hart's "younger appearance," like every year the focus was on two things the community has loved, The Boys and Girls Club and St. Patrick's Day.

Hart won’t be marching in it this year, but he said he’s excited to kick-back with his family and actually watch the parade in its entirety, something he hasn’t had the chance to do in 20-years.

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)


Genevieve Norton delivers her keynote speech.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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