Dick Batchelor is known for his ability to talk to anyone. He’s a respected business leader who speaks on television, to gatherings of people and controls a room in a social atmosphere.
It’s a trait that started as a young boy at the Orlando Boys Club.
“It was my first opportunity to socialize with a lot of different people, to get to know people in different walks of life,” he says. “It was where I learned how to be a social person.”
Growing up, Batchelor lived in public housing. Reeves Terrace had just been built and it was located across the street from a Boys Club, the forerunner to Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. It was the only option for after-school activities and for organized sports. Batchelor played baseball at the Boys Clubs from 1957-60 after his friends encouraged him to attend.
“It was a safe haven, a place for us to go,” Batchelor says. “I give Boys & Girls Clubs the credit for keeping me and some of my friends off the street and out of trouble.”
Without the influence of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Batchelor’s impact on our community might not have been felt. He served in the Florida Legislature and has chaired multiple community projects, such as raising much needed funds for public school construction. He was named Central Floridian of the Year in 2002 by the Orlando Sentinel and has raised more than $1 million through his Run for the Children to help abused children.
For today’s Club kids, Batchelor encourages them to be involved.
“Take extreme and full advantage of what Boys & Girls Clubs have to offer,” Batchelor says. “It can be a developmental opportunity or a full refuge for them.”