Souhegan Valley Boys, Girls Club director resigns

MILFORD – The longtime director of the local Boys & Girls Club, Dave Parker, has resigned as its chief professional officer.

Bob Heaton, vice president of the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley board of directors, is acting as interim CPO until a new leader is hired.

In an interview Monday, Parker said it’s very difficult to leave.

“It’s my baby, but I’ve been there 10 years and need a break,” he said. “The club is in good shape right now.”

Parker, who left last Friday, said he had been thinking about making a change over the past two months. “It’s in good hands right now, and Bob Heaton is a perfect fit while they look for a replacement,” he said.

Ten years ago, he was working as director of operations for the Hayden Center in Lexington, Mass., a private recreation center that served about 4,000 children – “Almost every kid in Lexington,” he said.

The Milford club was started in 1998 in the small Grange Hall on Webster Street by Diane Cole, Robert Perkins and Becky Moul, and a year later, Parker became its first director.

“Within nine months we outgrew it,” said Parker. “By 2001, we moved into the Aubuchon Hardware building” at Granite Town Plaza.

After a year, the club had outgrown that space and started to look for something bigger. With seed money from Milford’s Amato family, the club started a capital campaign to buy the American Stage Festival property on Mont Vernon Street.

Nearly 35 percent of the parents of children who use the club are single parents, he said, and it guarantees them an inexpensive, good quality place for their children.

“The staff is incredibly qualified. Every one of my staff knows those kids,” he said. “I don’t know any other Boys & Girls Club with great drama programs. We truly have a professional theater for the kids.”

Parker said he would like to serve on the club’s board of directors eventually, but now he wants to concentrate on finding a new job with “a similar but larger organization.”

In a press release John Siemienowicz, the board’s president, said “Dave Parker has led the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley for the past 10 years through tremendous changes, growing club membership from just 30 kids to over 600 last year.”

Parker’s “dedication to the mission to provide a positive place for kids in the community stimulated the organization’s growth over the years,” said Steve Desmarais, former president of the club’s board of directors.