Forty years later, Gary Cain still remembers Errol Sewell like it was yesterday.
After all, Sewell changed Cain’s life, setting him on a pathway to success instead of the direction he was heading.
“When I joined the Club, I was shoplifting and smoking cigarettes – gateway activities to more serious crimes,” Cain says. “Errol laid the foundation for a poor kid to be a success. If I hadn’t have been involved with Boys & Girls Clubs, I would have had a very different life.”
In 1966, Cain went to the Boys Club – it was just the Boys Clubs until 1990 – for the first time. He didn’t know anyone, but paid his $1 per year membership. He only returned rarely.
“I really didn’t know anyone,” Cain says. “My mother started nagging me that she didn’t have $1 to throw away. I went back and Errol was there to greet me. Those were welcoming words and the start of me attending every day.”
Since meeting Sewell, Cain’s life has been immersed in Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For more than 20 years, he’s led the Central Florida organization, more than quadrupling the number of children the organization serves each year. Because of Cain and the organization, thousands of Central Florida youth have been put on a course for success, much like Cain was by Sewell. Many have graduated from being Club kids to working in the organization.
Cain works diligently to instill the values Sewell taught him, from activities like reading books that help grow success to little things like tucking a shirt in to broad concepts that the harder you are willing to work, the more things will come your way.
“There is no other organization more committed to children in distressed circumstances than Boys & Girls Clubs of America,” Cain says. “If we want to solve the challenges we face with children and families, we must invest in ensuring our youth have safe afternoons and positive role models.
“It’s an everyday effort,” he adds. “We must encourage, guide, teach and show them what is possible. Then, allow them to understand their destiny is in their hands.”