Taylor leaving Boys & Girls Club for new role in Mass.

Photo by KATHY CLEVELAND Susan Taylor, the outgoing executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, in the club’s gymnasium.

MILFORD – Not long after a playground was installed in the Boys & Girls Club’s front yard, Susan Taylor asked one of the young boys if he had tried it, and he told her he didn’t like playgrounds.

Then one day Taylor heard a voice yelling “Susan!” It was the boy proudly calling her from the top of the climbing structure.

Taylor is the club’s executive director and she and the club have received many accolades over the past six months, but that little story obviously delights her and is one she will take with her when she leaves.

Taylor has accepted a new position with the national Boys & Girls Club as a consultant who will help the 24 clubs in its eastern Massachusetts territory.

She is definitely leaving on a high note.

During her eight years as director of the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley, youth membership has increased by 56 percent, to 800, and donations by 95 percent, according to Bob Heaton, president of the club’s board of directors, who joined Taylor in her office for an interview last week.

Most recently she led the organization through a $3 million capital campaign to expand the facility with a gymnasium and a teen center.

“Everyone who walks in here is amazed at what this offers,” said Heaton. They say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you do this here.’

“We’re not just babysitting. Everything is designed for a positive outcome, he said.”

This year, the New Hampshire Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year, Shelby Houghton, is from the Milford club.

Also this year, the club was awarded the Nonprofit Business of the Year Award from Business New Hampshire Magazine. In 2013 the club received the 2013 Corporate Fund Nonprofit Management Award, and in 2014 the Citizens Bank Champion in Action for Youth Programs Award.

All those accolades represent eight years of work by the entire organization, said Taylor, who called the new job

“a natural next step … I have gotten as much out of the club as I have given,”

Heaton said he and the other directors will be sad to see her go but also pleased she will do for other clubs what she did for this one.

Because Taylor has put the club on solid financial ground, he said, it is planning more programs that address the opioid crisis, including a Saturday camp for kids affected by addiction.

Watching kids grow over the years and seeing them become “amazing young adults has been incredibly rewarding,” she said.

Also rewarding has been watching her staff grow. The club’s management team has taken over much of the day-to-day management, she said. Theater director Robin LaCroix, for example, does her own profit and loss statements for the club’s Amato Center for the Performing Arts.

The club’s board of directors is forming a search committee for the executive director position,

Because of the club’s very engaged staff and its community support, Taylor said “whoever is hired will be lucky.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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