The Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne was started in 1989 by a small group of community leaders who felt the city needed a safe, accepting and positive place for children and teens to go after school and in the summer. Rudy Mahara, founder of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne had moved from Lafayette, Indiana where he saw first hand the value of the club. Since Fort Wayne was the largest city in the country, at that time, that did not have a club, Mahara gathered people and resources to start a small club at 1309 Minor Street in Fort Wayne. With the help of Tom Kelley of Kelley
Automotive and others the club also became the first club in America to transition from the boys only Boys Club to the name it bears today Boys and Girls Club. Rudy Mahara, owner of Rudy’s Cigars and Mahara Wealth
Management is still active today.
On opening day, the first Executive Director, Duane Hinshaw, found a long line of kids waiting for the club to open. The club on Minor Street was three rooms used as offices during the day, and for member programs after school.
The club has grown from under 100 members to the 2270 members the club serves today. Although the number of members, staff and program choices have grown, the focus is still the same: to give Fort Wayne youth a fun, safe and positive place to grow into happy, successful adults. The club moved from Minor Street to 2609 Fairfield Avenue in 1994 and a gymnasium was added to an existing building. It was the first and very successful capital campaign for the club.
In 2017, a new building and campus capital campaign was launched and raised $9 million in eleven months. The new 2.3 acre campus and 42,500 square foot building located at the corner of Pontiac and Fairfield Avenue (2609 Fairfield Avenue) now serves hundreds of members each day.
Features include a complete Divison 1 collegiate basketball and volleyball court, a performance stage, five learning centers, a second floor for teens only, an egaming/technology room, a dance/fitness studio, an expanded art room, and a building trades partnership room to educate mem,ebrs in the skilled trades. Together with many new collaborations the club has prepared for decades of support for at risk children to provide healthy minds, healthy bodies and healthy spirits.