Snap Leitner, the director of the West 7th Street Boys and Girls Club made the following presentation to the St. Paul School Board on August 21st.
I want to try to impress on everyone the commitment so many have to the West End Community and why.
My name is Snap Leitner. I am a 1964 grad of Monroe H.S. I’m here to talk about the many people of all ages, in this area that is involved in giving back to their community all year round. Those people consider Monroe to be the very heart of the W. 7th Community. Our Landmark!
As Monroe students, many of us came from families that were in dire financial straits. We learned we had advocated, for example, Principal Schanke, teachers, coaches, playground directors, plus common ordinary people from the neighborhood. I will also mention the West End Business people who supported the school with ads in our Year Book. They also provided additional funds to help pay for uniforms for the band, a pair of hockey skates for a student player, and much more. That kind of caring and sharing, going the extra mile, is the legacy I’m talking about and it is still going on today.
Even those of us who have moved away feel a life-long pull to return and to donate time, money and talent to help enrich the lives of today’s West Enders. When Monroe alumni get together, talk progresses from the good ole days to how we can lend a hand to neighbors in need. That is how the West 7th Street Boys Club was born over 30 years ago. Four people started the club, Nick Mancini being one of them, now there are over 200 men and women carrying on the tradition of giving back. Our contacts for the people we help are club members, schools, churches, W 7th Community Center, and the Ramsey County Veterans Administration.
The 2017 Holiday Season, Thanksgiving and XMAS, the Boys Club spent $26,651 helping out 51 families, 46 seniors, and 24 young adults, which consists of food, toys, Xmas trees, new bikes, gift cards, and last year a 2004 van to a young family of 4 that lives on W 7th St. We even have some people that we helped during their tough times, now donating back to the club.
Years back, we had 2 of our lady members that worked in the office of Monroe Elementary. At that time, students could purchase Monroe hooded sweatshirts and wear them during the winter months. The 2 ladies found out x number of families couldn’t afford them, the Boys Club bought them for those kids. Around that same time, we helped a female student get into High School and provided her with some financial assistance and later helped get her into a college also helping her obtain scholarships and financial guidance. Originally, she was going to be a doctor, I called her a few weeks ago; she is now Sister Rose, a nun!
You have been seeing pictures of S.S.N.O. that one of our members started 5 years ago with the St Paul Police. We are at a different playground in St Paul every Thursday during the summer. You can find the schedule online. We serve hamburgers, hot dogs, pop and water, fruit, chips, cookies, and candy. The police are there with their horses, motorcycles, robots, climbing wall and much more. The last 2 years we have served over 45,000 hamburgers and hot dogs. August 2nd, we were at Palace Rec which is 2 blocks from Monroe. We had a big turn-out and served over 1,300 hamburgers and hot dogs.
All these volunteers have identified with a culture of giving back which was created by the Monroe experience and has lasted all these years. Monroe is the name of a special place with a special meaning for the many people who have made the contributions I have described. Changing the name is unnecessary and certainly not in the best interest of all who are proud to have been a part of the Monroe community.
Our name and history are rich and vibrant and very relevant today. I know we can’t change history, but we can and do help with the present for members of the West End area and hopefully, we help make the future a little better for some.