Most people don’t get to say that they got their dream job, let alone that they had it for five decades. For Anne Gordon, though, it’s true.

On June 29, Gordon officially retired from the South Boston Boys and Girls Club, exactly 50 years after she started working part-time there when she was a sophomore in college getting her degree in art education.

Ever since then, she has made priceless changes and memories, which will be commemorated at the Club on October 2 for an Anne Gordon Celebration. To join, stop by 230 West 6th Street in South Boston between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on October 2.

Something that was supposed to be a temporary job to help pay tuition while molding the minds of young Southie residents turned into a 50-year stint during which Gordon left no stone unturned and a huge legacy behind.

“It’s what I wish for anyone, to find a job that you really enjoy because then it’s not really a job. It’s a passion, basically,” Gordon says. “I’ve enjoyed going to work every day. Not many people can say that.”

Those enjoyable work days included anything from lifeguarding at the pool to being a summer camp director, teaching art, running Club Council, and more.

Club Council was a program Gordon ran for 15 years that taught kids about politics. There was a mayoral election, campaigning, speeches, inaugurations and, at the end of the two-year term, a trip to D.C.

At the thought of one of her kids becoming president one day after being inspired by the council, “Who knows!” she exclaims.

To her, trips like those broadens their horizons and gets them out of the South Boston bubble. They’re important because they introduce the kids to opportunities they might not have access to otherwise.

One former student of Gordon’s who went on a skiing trip, for example, reached back out and said that because of that trip, she now brings her family skiing.

But Gordon didn’t always have to travel with kids to make a lasting impact. In fact, she didn’t even have to leave the art room.

Another one of her BGCB alums is playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. When he was younger, Gordon had the students make parrots out of old pantyhose egg containers. He recently called her up because he recreated the parrot and wanted to show her.

To Gordon, the art room is her real legacy. To her, it was a place where all kids could feel safe and welcome.

“With the arts, I always say, I don’t really think I’m raising the next Picasso, but one of our main focuses has been to introduce kids to being creative and thinking for themselves,” Gordon says, adding, “It’s my belief that kids can be creative with whatever they have around them.”

As important as visual arts is, Gordon saw the need for a performing arts platform at the club too. She was a shy kid and never did theater; she wants kids to have the opportunity to get up on stage in an encouraging environment that wasn’t available to her when she was a kid (which she jokingly admits was a very long time ago).

The new Anne Gordon Performing Arts Fund supports the performing arts, production costs, staffing, and more in order to provide a steady service of theater production without having to worry about budgets, hours, and other things that prevented performing arts from being a consistent presence in the past.

Plus, the kids now have the chance to work on costumes and set design and even got to paint giraffe heads for their production of The Lion King.

Gordon’s hope is to see this new avenue take off all throughout the clubs in Boston, but particularly South Boston. And she can make it happen—she isn’t leaving the club yet, exactly.

Despite “retiring,” Gordon is still volunteering at the club once a week, in addition to volunteering at her church. She also plans on golfing with her husband and going on trips to national parks once it becomes easier to do so.

What’s kept her at the South Boston Boys and Girls Club is her connections with the staff and the generational aspect of being able to watch kids of former alumni she mentored years ago grow up before her eyes. She admits she could have stayed longer, but decided to set a deadline: the 50 year anniversary of her start date.

But sticking around for the long haul has paid off. On October 7, Gordon will be honored and inducted into the Boys and Girls Club Boston Hall of Fame. She’s both excited and overwhelmed. To her, she has simply been doing her job—all these years.


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