The Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah has been a vital force in the Paducah-McCracken County, Kentucky community for over sixty years. Much change has occurred during that time. It began with a dream of Oscar M. Cross, a probation officer, who saw a need for young men to set higher goals for themselves and prepare for their futures. Cross had a devoted wife, Dorenda and two young daughters Martha and Gail, plus a sincere desire to aid in the positive development of our area’s youth. He made a commitment to keep them off the streets, out of the juvenile justice system and to provide educational experiences that were not taught in the traditional classroom setting.
The members, all boys at the time, met in the basement of the courthouse and were originally called the Junior Legion Club. Increased membership necessitated a change in location to provide more space for activities. The Junior Legion Club relocated to the Masonic Temple Building formerly on the corner of Seventh and Adams Streets. The new location brought about a new name, the Boys Club of Paducah, upon affiliation with the National Boys and Girls Club of America in 1953. As the years passed, more youth, both male and eventually female, became active members and were introduced to ideals of good character, academic achievement, and citizenship. The club once again relocated many years later to the Old Longfellow Elementary School on the corner of Twelfth and Jackson Streets, and in 1990 to acknowledge Mr. Cross’s many years of service in the community the Club was once again renamed to the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club of Paducah. In 2004, in recognition of the work Mr. Cross had done with generations of youth Jackson Street was renamed Oscar Cross Ave.
As the Club continues to grow year after year, we identify opportunities to expand and offer even more programming to our youth. The focus of the Club will always be empowering the youth. For example, in this recent time of pandemic we collaborated with Paducah Public Schools to provide targeted intervention to virtual students. Clearly, the needs of our youth have changed, but they are no less important or relevant than when Mr. Cross first created his mentoring program.
The Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club has a proud tradition of developing boys and girls into well-rounded adults and productive, responsible citizens. Over the years we have adapted to meet the changing needs of youth in a changing and increasingly hazardous society. The Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club has developed solutions and alternatives to many of the pressures and problems today’s kids and teens face. We intervene with positive life-shaping programs, producing the direction so many need. As we move forward into the future decades of service we strive to maintain the vision set by Mr. Cross to positively impact our youth.
We are the Positive Place for Kids! Go be Great!!