The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago partners with Navy Pier to provide experiences for children throughout the city that have never even seen anything outside their own communities. We asked Jason Vasquez from the organization to reflect on this partnership and the Pier itself.
What does the reopening of Navy Pier mean to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago?
The reopening of Navy Pier means that our Club members can continue to experience the best that Chicago has to offer. So many of our kids are only a few miles from Navy Pier but have never seen it before. With organized field trips, we are excited to return to an iconic landmark in Chicago.
How has Navy Pier made a positive impact on the students you serve?
We are privileged to host our major youth recognition event, Youth of the Year, at Navy Pier. To see our young people have the opportunity to speak in the Aon Grand Ballroom to over thousand people every year is an experience they don’t soon forget. Navy Pier allows our kids to learn, grow and expand their experiences.
Describe the experience kids have when they visit Navy Pier for the first time to ride the Centennial Wheel.
When our kids attend Navy Pier on organized field trips, for many it is the first time they are leaving their Chicago neighborhood. When they get to ride the Centennial Wheel, the whole city skyline opens up to them and they are able to understand the large world around them. It’s amazing to witness their reactions to seeing the world extend beyond their communities.
As one of Chicago’s iconic cultural institutions, share a few words about what does Navy Pier mean to you.
Navy Pier is an iconic piece of Chicago that offers an amazing experience for children and teens of all ages. To have access to this cultural institution, including boat rides on the lake, means expanding the world to our Club members.
What is your hope for Navy Pier over the next 10 years?
We hope Navy Pier continues to serve as an iconic piece of Chicago, offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences to our Club members. We hope it continues to open the world up to our young people and inspire them to be whatever they want in this world.
Most people who visit Navy Pier do not realize the Pier operates as a nonprofit and depends on fundraising from donors, what would you say to encourage someone to make a small contribution to Navy Pier?
Visiting Navy Pier every summer is one of the biggest highlights to our kids. To have such an iconic space to run, play and explore what the city has to offer is crucial to our Club members. We must continue to maintain and contribute to such an iconic Chicago institution.