Rick Aggeler remembers eight years ago when a fight broke out at the Boys & Girls Club because too many kids were trying to fit into the tiny, closet-sized music room. That brawl threatened to close the music program entirely. But Rick (a volunteer at the time) and his colleagues recognized that the incident was indicative of something crucial– the teenagers passionately wanted and needed more music programming. In partnership with Music & Youth Initiative, they expanded the program and built a Music Clubhouse instead of shutting down.
Fast forward to 2015, and Rick is still there– as a Music Clubhouse Director and as Team Leader for all five of the Music Clubhouses of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston– continually providing participants with the experience of music, and much more.
“We offer a sense of community and a consistency that is often not found in their home and school lives. Sometimes it’s not even about the music– we’re there for them every day, whether it’s a good day or a bad day.”
Rick can rattle off names and stories of current members and alumni as if they were his own family. He says that watching them grow has been the most rewarding experience. He loves seeing new participants who look up to older members eventually become the role models to the next batch of incoming participants.
Through years of experience with this ever-evolving mix of youth, Rick now can skillfully assess and address the needs of any type of participant– from the teen who needs a safe space or a support system to a serious musician; from the occasional participant to a “super-elite member who spends 5 hours every single day in the Music Clubhouse.” All of these members have a place at the Music Clubhouse.
“We’re not forcing anyone to fit a mold,” says Rick. “Everyone understands that music is a super-inclusive art.”
“At the root of it, they’ve got a place that they can try music. And if they realize it’s not for them, that’s as much a success as for the other kids, because at least they had the opportunity.”