I am a proud Boys & Girls Club alumna of the Southside Boys & Girls Club in St. Cloud. When I look back at the wonderful years I attended the Club, I am awestruck. I can’t believe there was something so stable, so free-flowing with opportunity, so well-structured and heartfelt in my community for me as a child. At the Club, I had so many opportunities – from physical activities in the gym, to art, to books and computers, homework help, social emotional learning, meals, field trips. I was encouraged at every step to shine as brightly as I possibly could in that space, and in the world around me. Staff always shared in my joy of writing, of singing, of acting, of organizing and being a leader. Everyone was respectful to me, and treated me as a valuable member of the Club. I have life-long friends that I met through these activities, and the Club created so many important connections for me. The bond that I share with so many who attended the Club is something that will last forever.
I had so many incredible experiences at the Boys & Girls Club. I participated in three summer sessions of art camp at St. John’s University through the Club, and I attended numerous CSB/SJU Fine Arts performances. I was close with a staff member named Trish, who did so much of what we would now call social and emotional learning. Another staff named Ben gave me guitar lessons, and he was the first person to teach me about organic foods and farming. I went to six summer camps with Geri, Christine, and Sarah! I was given the distinct honor of introducing the Minnesota Governor before he spoke at an event for the Minnesota Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. I saw the President of the United States with Tom when he came to St. Cloud. I was an original member of a multi-cultural drumming group called “Beats on the Block” with Buddy King. This is just a fraction of great memories and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that the Boys & Girls Club has given me. Each of these experiences has made a profound impact on my life.
I currently work at Apollo High School, and for 3 years I’ve worked at the front desk in a clerical role. Working in the office allows me to contribute to and support Apollo in a very unique way that makes me really proud. I am the head coach of the Apollo Speech Team. I definitely think my time at the Club helped me develop my skills as a public speaker. I was involved in the speech world throughout my school career, and now as a coach. I am going to St.Cloud State University to finish my degree and become a special education teacher in the Fall 23 semester. Teaching is my passion, and I’m really excited to be so close to the finish line of such a big goal. I am happy to be in St.Cloud at this time of my life. It is so special to raise my family here, and to share experiences with them that I had as a child.
I often think about the amazing staff that I met at the Boys & Girls Club. It was such a diverse group of young people. There were staff who lived in my neighborhood, and staff that were students at St.Cloud State. Everyone was so smart. I remember sitting and talking with them for hours, learning about the world, and about life, learning through their lenses and experiences. Boys & Girls Club staff truly came from all walks of life. It was a great joy to get to know all of those people, who each made a positive impact on my life in a unique way. And, whenever I see these Club staff in the community, they always remember me.
I’d like to thank the Boys & Girls Club and the great staff for empowering me to be a part of something important, for accepting me for who I was and for providing me with the stability, love and support I needed. My experience at the Club helped me believe how special I truly am.