a group of children sitting around a blue table
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Keys, with its Key West location at Bayview Park, provides affordable after-school and summertime care for the children of working parents. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

Leaders of the local Boys & Girls Club, with its after-school and summertime child care programs for working families, may never know what the club did to positively affect the life of Stephen Haight. But they’ll be forever grateful to Haight and his parents, who recently bequeathed their entire estate to the club.

“Our club was named as the sole beneficiary in the Haight Family Trust, with a distribution amount of $879,230,” said Judy Leggett, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Keys. 

Don and Gyda Haight, and their son, Stephen, were from Oregon. Don was a development consultant and the three of them traveled the world. Stephen eventually attended boarding school in Florida, where he loved the sunshine and warmth. At some point, as an adult, Stephen made his way to Key West and developed an affinity for the Boys and Girls Club here, so much that he asked his parents to make a donation, which they did.

Stephen’s untimely death in 2018 broke his parents’ hearts, said his cousin, Jill Massinger. “Ultimately, Don Haight chose our club as the sole beneficiary of their estate,” Leggett said adding that Don Haight died in March 2022 at the age of 89, and Gyda Haight died five months later at the age of 87.

Massinger described Stephen as a talented artist. She said she believed that “the Boys and Girls Club of the Keys helped Stephen in some way. Perhaps he served as a volunteer. Perhaps he benefited from one of the organization’s programs. Somehow, Boys and Girls Club of the Keys had an impact on him.”

Massinger said that while her Aunt Gyda and Uncle Don supported many causes throughout their lives, they felt especially strong about helping children.

“This generous donation has left us with nothing but optimism regarding the club’s future,” Leggett said. “We are looking to initiate our Trauma-Informed Program, geared toward mental health to equip teens with the tools to help them support themselves during a mental health crisis. We’re also excited about improving our mentoring program and implementing incentives in our Workforce Readiness Program. We have quite a few art-driven kids in our membership, and they will have more appropriate tools to assist with all the creative ideas.”

The funds have afforded the club the ability to move forward while engaging its kids in programs and activities that stimulate their thoughts and challenge their minds, while enhancing their educational and social experiences.