By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – The capitalized blue and black colored letters and insignia, covering the front right side wall, inside of 126 Liberty Street capture it all.
“Great futures start here.” The powerful message announces for all the youth who enter the present-day Newburgh Boys and Girls Club facility to see. They are four transformative words that further epitomize the passion for youth behind its original, driving catalysts- Harvey Burger and Glenn Hines. It’s that rich, storied history that Burger’s son was intent on relaying to an attentive roomful of young people Thursday afternoon.
“I used to go to this very building and play basketball right here,” Hamilton Burger proudly delivered during his approximately 10 minute chat. “This place really shaped the person I was to become.”
It’s been over 30 years since Burger has been back to the 126 locale, but his detailed memories of every moment spent there have not faded one bit. In fact, he can astutely recite the entire history of the building-one in which his father and Fraser are at the cornerstone.
Tracing back to the 1960’s, Burger tells how the Community Worker’s Association (C.W.A.) at the Bourne Apartments area, was directed by the dynamic Hines, tirelessly promoting youth development. A mentor to Harvey Burger, Hines eventually passed the director torch on to him, continuing the youth passion he ignited. It was a role Harvey Burger flourished at, achieving incredible success, serving the booming Newburgh residents. However, when the once vibrant, lucrative factory life near the Hudson River suffered from unprecedented pollution in the 1980’s, production vanished, and Newburgh developed a “bad name,” according to Hamilton Burger.
“The YWCA right here on 126 Liberty Street became vacant because no one from the outside suburbs wanted to come to the City of Newburgh anymore,” recalled Burger. “Knowing this big building was available, and with the help of CWA, my father was able to purchase it, and rightfully so, called it The Glenn Hines Center.”
In the late 1980’s that torch was once again passed when Burger stepped down and Reverend Nelson McAllister took over the revered directorial responsibilities of guiding and supporting youth with engaging activities year round. As far as Burger knew, the Glenn Hines name had remained secure over time; however, about 10 years ago, he was driving by and noticed that very familiar, comforting Glenn Hines sign with the trademark basketball on it was gone. A new one, saying Boys and Girls Club had replaced it.
“I was just really surprised to see the change, but just as long as the commitment to the kids is still there, that’s the main thing that matters.”
Although content to see the legacy of his father and Hines (both deceased) unwavering dedication to and belief in youth being continued in the same building his father helped purchase and that played a pivotal role in carving out the person he was to become, Burger is intent on making one paramount reality come to fruition.
“More than anything, I want to have a plaque of my father and Mr. Hines displayed somewhere in this building,” affirmed Burger. “They deserve that.”
Hamilton Burgers’ niece, who is Harvey Burger’s granddaughter and was also on hand at Thursday’s event, was in full agreement.
“This Boy’s and Girl’s Club was my grandfather’s real passion; I want to make sure everyone knows that and how much my family still loves it and has a passion for all it does,” said Tanisha Burger. “Like the sign inside here says, my grandfather believed ‘great futures start here;’ kids need safe places like this, ones where they can be themselves, stay busy and have fun with people who truly believe in them.”