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National Volunteer Month Spotlights

Published on April 4, 2016 under Volunteers

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida is excited to celebrate National Volunteer Month! We are so grateful for the incredible people who contribute to our organization, so throughout April, we will be posting volunteer spotlights for some of our great supporters. Some will even be written by our outstanding volunteers themselves! Follow the story using the hashtag ‪#‎BGCCFVolunteer.

Omar Warren Sr.
Poinciana Teen Center

I have been volunteering at the Poinciana Teen Center since it opened in August of 2011.

I teach a writing class every Wednesday night. The youth practice writing, reciting and performing. The teens focus on writing poetry, short stories and next year we will be starting a debate team.

I love having the opportunity to mentor young minds. We work on a skill set that is a priceless asset. Many of the youth that have been through the program have utilized those skills both in school and to get into school. My reward is their success.

Valleri Crabtree
Tupperware Brands Club

I have been volunteering at the Club since the beginning of November 2015 and have been there every Monday (unless I was out of town) to help. I have been there both when it has been more structured (when school is in session) and unstructured (when school was not in session on that day); this has given me the opportunity to have a variety of experiences and interactions with the young people.

On days when school is in session and there is more structure in the “classrooms” at the Boys & Girls Club, I usually volunteer with the first graders and help them with their homework – English grammar, reading, spelling and arithmetic. I also discuss with them any concerns which they share with me about what they don’t understand about their lessons and I do what I can to help them better grasp the material, using the frameworks for reading and math which they are being taught to use. While I have worked with other grades and even once with the high school children, I believe that I can make my greatest contribution with the first graders at the Club.

On days when school is not in session, I monitor times of “free play” in the common room, doing everything from encouraging courteous behavior to demonstrating the correct way to play pool and foosball! Sometimes the younger elementary school children are shown a movie. At those times, I help the staff person keep the children calm and focused so that all can enjoy the show.

While I am only able to contribute a small amount of time each week to volunteering at the Club, I definitely look forward to it! Not only is the Tupperware Brands Branch in Kissimmee an excellent, impressive facility, staffed by a skilled and dedicated staff, it is the children with whom I see each week that I love the most.  I find it very heartwarming when I arrive on Monday and the first graders seem excited to see me!  I have been able to see first-hand how important the Club becomes to these young people and how the staff and volunteers contribute to an environment which helps to nurture growth of these young people in so many ways. I am a believer in the positive power of Boys & Girls Clubs!

Kate Warrington
Taft Club

I have been volunteering at the Taft Boys & Girls Club for about three years – possibly more.

When I come to the Club, the kids are always excited because they think it’s Nike Night! They love to ask me about my job and what we do every day at the store is fascinating to them. The kids also can’t wait to start working for Nike. I try to be outside and active with the kids, but make sure to take the time out and see what they are working on in the art room and when it’s Power Hour as well.

What I love about the Club is the sense of family. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone takes care of each other. I know that being part of the Taft Boys & Girls Club is more than a membership; it is a place to create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Morris Johnson
West Sanford Club

How long have you been volunteering at West Sanford?

I’ve been a volunteer at the West Sanford Club since 2014; the time has passed quickly!

What do you do when you volunteer?

As a volunteer at the Club, I’ve been sharing my experiences and training of over 15 years in the martial art of Taekwondo.

What do you love about your Club?

What I love about the Club is that I have the opportunity to give back, engage with the Club members and the staff, and contribute in positive ways to my community.

The experience continues to be a privilege and satisfying experience.

Tia Clark
Universal Orlando Foundation Club

I have been volunteering at the Universal Orlando Foundation Branch for about six months now. Every Tuesday, I meet with the teen girls to discuss good decision making, conflict resolution, college preparation and any personal issues that they want to address. I try to talk to each girl individually in case they have an issue they don’t want to address in front of the group. After discussion, I play games with all of the teens or help with homework if I can. I also assist with any project that the directors need help with.

The Universal Orlando Foundation Branch is such a great facility. The kids have resources to use for recreation as well as for school assignments. The kids respect the staff and volunteers, and they understand that we have all of their best interests at heart. Despite their circumstances, the kids at my Club continue to keep a spirit of optimism about their future goals.

Zane Vliegenthart
Temple Terrace Club

I have been volunteering for over a year and a half at the Temple Terrace Branch. I began in October 2014 during my junior year of high school.

My job at the Club varies depending on the needs of the children at the time. Most often, I spend my time helping the students with homework or projects they are conducting in school. In addition, I organize activities and learning opportunities for many of the children to expand their knowledge and curiosity in a wide range of subject matters. For example, I ran a Lego Robotics Program with several of the Temple Terrace Club members and just recently began experimenting with 3-D printing alongside a handful of older children.

The Club has given me a greater understanding of overcoming adversity and finding the positives in life. Many of the children come from difficult circumstances, but they always arrive at the club with an optimistic attitude looking to make a good day out of a bad one. Not to mention, I love how so many of the children possess a passion for learning, and their curiosity drives me to discover more. Without a doubt, the Boys & Girls Club has been one of the greatest experiences in my life.

Alison Fox
Walt Disney World Clubhouse

I have been volunteering at the Walt Disney World Clubhouse for over eight years. I’ve found I have some extra time at the end of the week and discovered that there is no better way to spend it than at the Boys & Girls Club, providing the children an opportunity to network with other people who they may not be in their day-to-day circle of home and school. I provide support to staff and the children. The kids also get a feeling that people outside their circle do care about them. Some of the best lessons in life that I have learned were through dialogue with people I look up to. I try to be a positive force and try display happiness and kindness and I love having opportunity do just that.

Jucylene Stewart
After School Zone

How long have you been volunteering with our After School Zone?

Since Oct. 18, 2013. Robinswood Middle School was the first place I delivered the financial education classes.

What do you do when you volunteer?

I teach a financial education workshop that consists of three separate classes: 1) Bank On It – Introduction to Banking Services, 2) Check It Out – How to Choose and Keep a Checking Account and 3) Pay Yourself First – Why You Should Save.

What do you love about your Clubs?

I love the After School Zones where I teach the financial education classes because I get to reach students from different middle schools in Central Florida. I love when the students show enthusiasm, ask questions and participate in the class activities.

Robert Pell
Downtown Club

I have been volunteering at the Club for a little over a year now.

When I volunteer, I try to do everything possible to help the members feel that I am making an impact in their lives toward higher productivity and increased self-improvement. Some of the days that I go during the week vary but, many times, I try to lend an extra hand with the Club’s agenda whether that being in helping with homework, character building, teaching, helping to facilitate playing sports outside and just being there to listen when any of the members have an issue they would like to talk about.

The thing I love most about the Club is the family atmosphere. I truly believe that having a bond as strong as the members have with each other is one of the most invaluable resources anyone of any age could ever ask for. When I first started volunteering at the Club, it was very difficult because I did not know anyone and did not have much experience with anyone of that age range. Although I was slow to start, the members quickly grew on to me and accepted me as a part of their Club. It was truly something earned and a big achievement on my part. I have never experienced such an unconditional acceptance as I had with the members and staff. It was very similar to the bond a family shares at home.

I initially wanted to volunteer to possibly teach the members some experiences that I had in life, and maybe some basic sciences as well. I plan to apply to medical school in the summer and when some of the members found out, they expressed their ideas at a possible future in health care. I was floored, and soon proceeded to teach them what I had learned and never wanted to stop. They gave me the undivided attention many teachers only yearn to have. It was an even bigger excitement when they had shared that they went back to their classrooms to teach other students about what they had learned.  This to me is the ultimately achievement.

But what I had not realized was that in my journey to possibly teach the members my experiences and to be a role model of integrity and support to them, it was them, the members, who had actually taught me. Above all, they taught me that the future generations will be far greater than ours today, because of them. They will be far greater leaders of society and will have the knowledge to do what is right in this world.  I feel that I have gained so much in such a short time by being with the Club’s members and staff that, on looking back, I would be years behind them if they were all the same age as I. Volunteering at the Club has become an integral part of me and I increasingly look forward to coming back each following week.

I know that in the future I will not be able to volunteer my time as much as I do now and will feel as if I had abandoned something that had given me so much joy, but I hope that in the meantime I can do as much as possible to help our Club members achieve the Club goals, and most importantly, their own goals for their future. This was my goal when I started volunteering at the Club and it would be a great success to see all of the members having the opportunity to follow their dreams as they grow into adolescence and then adulthood. I know they will do well because they have the Club family to support them in their endeavors.

Hopefully they will remember me that far in the future, I know I will remember them.

This is what I love most about my Boys & Girls Club.

Tate Blomquist 
Parramore Teen Center

I’ve been a volunteer since spring 2015. When I go to the Club, I visit with the teens, ask how they’re doing, and the teen girls and I work on dance projects. We work on dance routines for upcoming events. We’ve done three so far and have many more to come. I love working with the teens because I know they want to be acknowledged, involved and loved. I love giving the boys grief and empowering the girls. I love hugging the girls and telling them they’re beautiful. I love telling the boys I’ve got eyes on them and sometimes they volunteer to be our DJ during rehearsal or dance in a routine. This photo is from a recent performance at the Downtown Club for our Black Heritage Celebration. These young women selected a song, choreographed and performed for their peers and families.

Bonnie Rego
Mims Club

I have been volunteering at the Mims Boys & Girls Club since November 2015. One of my favorite times to volunteer is during Power Hour.  I really enjoy helping the kids with their homework. Also, once a month we have been able to do some cake and cupcake decorating with the kids, which they really seem to enjoy. The Club is great because it seems like a big family. The staff does a great job having a wide range of activities for the kids, and the kids are amazing as well. With all of the myriad personalities, each volunteer day is a very joyful adventure!

Karen Carter
Apopka Club

I have volunteered teaching art at the Apopka Boys & Girls Club for approximately two years.

During the school year, I volunteer once a week for after school art class. Last summer, I taught three art classes on Thursdays.

I love the Apopka youth’s enthusiasm, energy and excitement while they participate in art class. They truly amaze me with their creative talents and thoughts. I admire the children’s willingness to jump in to learn and experiment with new art techniques.

As they say, these children are our future leaders. The volunteering experience lifts me up and helps me feel useful. I know the children enjoy having an adult take special interest in them. Overall, volunteering at the Apopka  Boys & Girls Club is a very rewarding and fun part of my week!

VOICE
Joe R. Lee Club

CATCH Healthy Habits led by Holly Tanyhill through Rollins College

We have volunteered at the Club for almost one year, completing a summer, fall and spring semester.

We spend one hour a week at the Club with the kids teaching them healthy habits. Within the hour, we share a healthy snack, teach a lesson on nutrition and lead the kids in fun physical games and activities.

We love our Club because it feels like an extension of family. The children and staff are all so welcoming. We have grown fond of them and they seem to like it when we are there. We also love that the students are interested in learning about being healthier and report that they are applying the lessons learned to become healthier individuals.

Tabitha Moore
Cocoa Club

Since the very first day we opened the Cocoa Club, Ms. Tab has been involved in the Club and its mission. She plays an active role as the community liaison by helping us get the message out about all our Club has to offer. She also heads our parent committee, which helps get more parents involved in Club activities. As a banker with Wells Fargo, Ms. Tab teaches our teens about financial literacy. She has become a great asset to our Club and our entire BGCCF family.

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