Life is full of twists and turns that sometimes bring you right back where it all began, once you set off. Such it is with Alex Heinemann, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona.
A true local, he attended Bradshaw Mountain in Prescott Valley, and later Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating with a degree in Aviation Business Administration. Upon graduation, and with the economy experiencing a recession, Alex found his life take a much different turn. A turn that took him east.
It was in Manchester, New Hampshire, that Alex would begin a career in nonprofits and working with youth that continues to this day. Alex held a variety of leadership roles with the Boys Scouts of America, eventually returning to Arizona with the Grand Canyon Council and later as director of Camp Sky-Y with the YMCA in Prescott.
Joining the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona in the spring of 2021, Alex currently serves as its CEO, building on a tradition of providing safe environments for youth to socialize, learn and grow with their afterschool programs and more that started in 1860.
“I really found my passion for youth with the BGCCA, and am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to guide and grow such a great institution. I was a club member growing up, and it’s exciting to be a part of it as an adult,” Alex said.
With two locations – at 335 E. Aubrey in Prescott, and 8201 E. Loos Drive in Prescott Valley – the clubs are constantly updating, expanding programs, and looking to serve as many kids as possible.
With 4,300 clubs throughout the country, the Boys and Girls Club experience is different for everyone based on region and when you attended. BGCCA serves over 450 youth every month through its afterschool programs. With a cost of $90 per month, students age 6-17 are provided an opportunity to learn through fun and relationships. Scholarships are available.
“We have grown to a place where we actually have openings for our afterschool and summer programs,” exclaims Alex. “For years the club was on a constant waiting list, and I’m pleased to say that we have been able to bring on additional staff to make the club experience available to as many youth as possible – that’s my priority.”
Using PUSD bus transportation, students can conveniently reach the club, and while there, do homework, or participate in club programs such as the multi-media program, art, play sports or other group activities.
“We make it a point to allow every child to have access to the club through our scholarship programs. We know how important it is for youth to have a safe haven that may not always be available due to parental work schedules etc. Instead of going home to an empty house, kids have a safe place to develop relationships and share experiences,” Alex added.
The club also offers a roster of weekly summer camps for club members at nominal cost. And … there is still room to sign up for one or more of the 10 different camps including Beach, Science, Jurassic, Disney, Sports Camp, and even Pirate Week led by Alex himself. “It’s gonna be a fun week and I’m busy planning everything pirate I can think of.”
The camps all are based on the club fundamentals of character and leadership, and fun with a purpose.
When not practicing his best pirate speak, Alex, his team, and board of directors have been busy planning for Prescott’s premier annual event, Dancing for the Stars.
“This is by far our biggest fundraiser of the year, and I’m fortunate to follow in the steps of those that came before me to make the event what it is today,” Alex said.
What is Dancing for the Stars you ask? Modeled after the popular TV dance contest, “Dancing with the Stars,” the Prescott spin off showcases local community leaders from a variety of vocations, partnering them with trained dance professionals to not only compete for the mirror ball trophy, but also to raise the money needed to maintain operations for BGCCA.
“We anticipate this being our biggest year yet and look to surpass last year’s take of $460,000. It’s a great community event with two performances. Premier Night is Friday, Aug. 25, and the Red Carpet Event, Saturday, Aug. 26. Both at Yavapai College and are not-to-be-missed events.”
Alex Heinemann, pirate in training, and forging new paths — 163 years in the making.
For tickets or information about DFTS, or to vote for your favorite Dancer Team, visit dancingforthestars.net.
For info on Boys and Girls Club After School and Summer programs, visit bgccaz.org.
Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. His radio show, the Prescott Palette, is on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email: Prespalette@gmail.com.