October 19, 2018, 4:40 am
THOMAS FAY, who is the regional president of BNY Mellon and leads its wealth-management office in Providence, also serves as president of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence. / COURTESY BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF PROVIDENCE
Thomas P. Fay is the regional president of BNY Mellon and leads its wealth-management office in Providence. He also serves as president of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence.
As a member of BNY Mellon’s senior management team, Fay focuses on expanding the company’s presence throughout New England, offering business development, portfolio management, private banking and client service to high net worth investors and institutions. He joined the company in July 2012 and has more than 30 years of financial services experience.
A native of Rhode Island, Fay lives in Barrington, where he and his wife, Colette, raised four boys. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Boston College and an MBA from the University of Rhode Island. He is also a chartered financial analyst.
PBN: This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, which holds the distinction of being the oldest continually operating club in the country. How has the local organization’s work evolved since it first opened in 1868?
FAY: The challenges [facing] today’s youth of Providence are far greater than in the past.
More than 80 percent of the kids we serve are considered to be [living] in poverty, and many of them rely on us to provide meals, which was not a primary focus [of the organization]. Just last year, we served 106,000 meals through our clubs.
Providence is also not immune to the violence we are seeing nationally, and we have addressed safety in our clubs through understanding and acceptance of what makes all of us different.
Family structure and support has also changed over the years. Many of our members have parents working two and three jobs to make ends meet, which underscores the important role we play in providing a safe, structured environment during hours kids may otherwise be home alone.
The biggest evolution has been our shift from recreation to a deeper focus on education. From science-, technology-, engineering- and math-based workshops and tutoring, to workforce-development initiatives, we’re teaching youth the skills they need to rise out of poverty and live healthy, productive lives. These kids can accomplish amazing things when provided a supportive environment.
PBN: You have been serving on the BGCP board for 15 years, including the last nine as president. What has kept you involved for so long and why have you committed so much of your time to help the youth of Providence?
FAY: My motivation is both personal and economic. Providence is the heart of Rhode Island and as [the city] goes, so goes our state. Kids today are the leaders of tomorrow, and if we don’t invest in them, we can’t succeed as a city or as a state.
We talk often about investing in infrastructure and schools, but for me, investing in our youth and putting them on a path to succeed yields amazing results as they move forward. From a personal perspective, I grew up in a great family and am blessed with four successful boys. Just as my wife and I have worked to give our children every advantage, I realize we all need to do the same for those who may be less fortunate. The satisfaction of seeing these kids get into college or learn the life skills they’ll carry with them through adulthood is extremely rewarding.
Finally, working with the dedicated staff at our clubs is inspiring. They truly work miracles and never tire. Their energy, enthusiasm, and empathy continuously make me realize I am not doing enough and need to do more to help.
PBN: What types of activities does the BGCP have planned to celebrate its milestone anniversary?
FAY: First and foremost, we wanted to use this amazing milestone to increase awareness about our work and its impact. We built a marketing campaign that highlights our many accomplished alumni. We’ve created PSAs for television and radio, and a digital campaign is being set in motion with billboards on I-95 and I-195 highlighting our anniversary. We’re also ramping up our social media presence.
Over the summer, and to kick off our anniversary, we hosted block parties at our South Side and Fox Point clubhouses to celebrate our work in the community – with the community. The parties were sponsored by the Fox Point Alumni Association and Tufts Health [Plan].
We also expanded our swim lessons program through a grant from the city of Providence.
Through all of this, we hope to reconnect with alumni we’ve lost touch with through a special website, www.bgc150.com, [which] they can visit and identify themselves. We have more than 50,000 alumni living across our state.
Finally, on Nov. 29, we will hold our Denim Diamonds Gala at Café Nuovo.
PBN: As a nonprofit, community support is vital to BGCP’s ability to deliver its wide range of programming to youth. How can the community get involved with the organization’s work to ensure the clubs remain a resource for children for another 150 years?
FAY: Community is at the heart of everything we do, and our alumni are truly our best ambassadors for connecting others with our work and members.
As I mentioned, we’re hoping to reconnect with alumni through the www.bgc150.com website and engage them with our [current] members. It can be very meaningful for today’s youth to have a positive role model who was once in their shoes at our clubs.
There’s also a number of ways the community as a whole can become involved. If an individual or company wants to learn more about our organization, I would encourage them to contact our CEO, Nicole Dufresne, to schedule a tour or to visit one of our programs. We also have volunteer opportunities, such as providing tutoring help and serving meals at one of our clubhouses.
And, because charitable support is so vital to our work, there are a number of ways people can invest in the future of a child through our website or by giving to a range of different programs and initiatives.
PBN: What one piece of advice would you give to people who are still on the fence about volunteering in support of Providence’s youth?
FAY: My advice to anyone on the fence about volunteering is to visit an organization that serves Providence’s youth. Observe kids in an environment that is safe, respectful and intellectually challenging and see how they are succeeding.
Talk to the dedicated workers and volunteers who are committed to these children and changing lives. Think about the impact your “investment” can have toward helping youth develop as productive members of our community.
Your volunteerism can be a catalyst for this positive change, and I truly believe that we all have something to offer in making a difference for others.