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Missy Bienvenue, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana, grew up in Lafayette and understands that she has lived a privileged life. What is remarkable about Missy is that she works each and every day to provide under-resourced youth the same privileges she has always taken for granted: access to fun, safe and structured programming that open doors to successful lives. She provides the perfect combination of talent, heart, and discipline that can make positive things happen.
Missy’s early love of dancing led her to a life instilled with self-discipline, whether it was serving as a Sparkler for the St. Thomas More Cougars, or teaching dance across the U. S., Europe, Central America, South America, and Asia on behalf of Varsity Brands International. She compares the structure and discipline of being on a competitive dance team with the rigors of working professionally as a team player to get the job done. Her experiences in teaching dance to students to children from all backgrounds also led her to understand that you “take the kids where they are and work together to open doors of knowledge.” This lesson has served her well in her current role with Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana.
“I got to see the world doing something I loved. Yet, everywhere I traveled, I became more informed about how much I appreciate home. There’s no place like home. And I chose Lafayette as my final destination.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana serves almost 5000 kids annually at five facilities located in Lafayette, Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Landry Parishes. Its mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” While all children from six to eighteen years of age are welcome to participate, a majority of the kids come from single-parent, non-traditional households with challenging circumstances. The Club’s focus is to keep things fun, safe, and structured so as to provide programming that develops each youth’s potential.
Three areas of development underlie the various programs offered: (1) Academic Success is first and foremost, and the students have to complete their homework each day; (2) Good Character and Citizenship (with the Torch and Keystone Clubs in place to develop leadership opportunities in 11 to 13-year-olds and 14 to 18-year-olds, respectively); and (3) Healthy Lifestyles which exposes the children to wholesome cooking, opportunities for exercise. and fun activities such as “Kids in the Kitchen” sponsored by The Junior League of Lafayette and Wacky Olympics and Food Bingo sponsored by Lafayette General Health.
Lafayette’s Junior League volunteers leading “Kids in the Kitchen” in the Granberry Unit of Boys & Girls Club, teaching the kids about healthy eating and healthy living.
In June 1970, The “Boys Club of Lafayette” began serving young men through the efforts of local business leaders, spearheaded by the Sertoma Club and the Jaycees. Through the years the Club’s mission grew with a sustained period of growth and in 1990, the name was changed nationally and locally to “Boys & Girls Clubs.” Acadiana celebrates its 50th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana next year in 2020; Missy was excited to share that in conjunction with the 50 anniversary celebration, Acadiana will host the Louisiana Youth of the Year competition, “a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence, and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Several fundraisers are held throughout the year to support the Club’s activities, and they just recently concluded a highly successful Great Futures Gala which featured a musical performance by Tracy Lawrence and band. They are also known for the annual Running of the Ducks which will celebrate its 30th year in 2020; last year, approximately 27,000 ducks went down the slide at Red’s Health Club, and $113,000 was raised. Other annual events include Golf for Great Futures and the Celebrity Waiter Dinner and Auction in Abbeville.
Volunteers and donors are always greatly appreciated. For more information on the work of Boys & Girls Clubs of Acadiana, visit