Trees of Hope: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland

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Duluth Denfeld high school has produced some pretty incredible athletes, in hockey, basketball and football. Minnesota Viking CJ Hamm for example. 15-year old Denfeld freshman, Marnaries Ferguson has high hopes for his future in professional sports. In addition to both CJ and Marnaries being Denfeld hunters, there’s something else they have in common too.

Marnaries Ferguson keeps making Denfeld basketball prep sports highlight reels. But long before he played in the Denfeld gymnasium, his love for basketball was born in a different one. The gym at Duluth’s Lincoln Park Boys and Girls club. He’s beeing coming here since he was six years old.

“When i was young,” Marnaries said, “I came to the boys and girls club and they had a session going on where they played against other programs like the washington center and other teams. When I was in that program we played against them a lot and i just loved playing here.”

Marnaries says it was here that he made his first real friends. It was here where he felt safe, where he has positive adult role models, where he learned about respect and teamwork and even got help with school work.

He made it very clear, saying “The boys and girls club really impacted my life. If you have nothing to do, like after school week in and week out, or days when there’s not school, the boys and girls club was there.” He described it further, saying “After school you could go there and you could chill out and hang out with your friends, get some food and have fun.”

Minnesota Viking CJ Hamm continues to this day to thank and support the Duluth boys and girls clubs for being there for him. Who knows, maybe someday Marnaries will be doing the same thing, from an NBA basketball arena.

For more than 50-years the boys and girls clubs of the Northland has helped countless youth like Marnaries find a safe, positive place to empower and inspire them, especially kids who need them the most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible citizens.