Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s sixeenth installment of their profile program, highlighting nonprofits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of the Boys & Girls Club of East Dundee.
Interview with Wendy Farly | President, Board of Directors – Boys & Girls Club of East Dundee
How did you become involved with this organization?
The Boys & Girls Club of Dundee Township (www.bgcdt.org) was founded in Carpentersville 24 years ago when gang activity was at an all-time high. I was intrigued by the mission of our Club, which is to inspire potential and nourish the character of the children who need us the most in our area.
I was formerly a member of the Board of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago but joined the Boys & Girls Club of Dundee Township Board when I became a member of the District 220 School Board and wanted to make a difference in our community. Sunny Hill Elementary in District 220 is one of the ten schools we serve. I have seen first-hand the work we are doing to help these children achieve their full potential academically and as future leaders of our community. I am currently the President of our Board of Directors.
What do you feel is the most important benefit your organization provides to the community?
The most important benefit Boys & Girls Club does is change the lives of children who live in challenging environments. All of our members are at or below the poverty level. For $20 per year, the members of our Club, aged 5 to 18, participate in after-school programs every day, are served a hot dinner, have fun in a safe environment and thrive. I am constantly hearing positive feedback from parents of our members. One of our members, David, a 5th grader at Sunny Hill Elementary, was struggling and experiencing behavioral issues at school. He joined Boys & Girls Club, became one of our junior leaders. David’s grades improved significantly and he learned how to better handle his emotions. His teary-eyed mother attributed his tremendous improvements to his participation in Boys & Girls Clubs.
How does Boys Club/Girls Club utilize volunteers?
Our volunteers are used in a variety of ways. We work to fit their schedules and their preferences. Some of our volunteers read books with our children, some are featured speakers at our HIgh School IMPACT Center, volunteer on a weekly basis to assist our staff with activities, help tutor the children, participate in STEM activities, throw parties for our members, they have taught our members how to play golf and some help plan our fundraisers or do administrative work in our office. The list of volunteer opportunities is long. After passing a background check, our volunteers meet with our Volunteer Coordinator for placement in a location and at a time that works best for them. Our goal is for our volunteer experience to be as rewarding for our volunteers as it is for our members. Signing up for a volunteer role is easy to do at: https://bgcdt.org/give/
What do you feel is the best thing about your organization?
I think the best thing about Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township is our team of people. The children are amazing. They are great kids who have big hearts and lots of grit. Our staff is inspiring. Thirty percent of our staff are alumni of our Club. And we were lucky enough to retain 90% of our staff through the COVID pandemic. Our CEO, Drew Glassford, and his entire team are committed to the continued success in our organization. They have had one of the most difficult and most successful years our organization has experienced this past year. Our Board members are top-notch. We have 24 Board members who are business leaders in our area who are serious about making a difference in our community. And we are lucky to have amazing volunteers and donors who value our work and get excited about the impact they have in the lives of these children. We are striving to evolve from a charity to a change agent in our kids’ lives. I am very proud of the people of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township.
Are there any new programs or new initiatives you will be implementing for 2021?
Over the years, we have experienced growth in our volunteer network. As a result, we have recently hired a new volunteer coordinator, Kayla Caldwell. Kayla will be responsible for making our volunteer’s experiences meaningful and rewarding. She can be reached at email@example.com or 224-805-6825. We are excited to have Kayla join our team. In addition, we opened our Teen IMPACT Center in Carpentersville last year. We are excited to see the teen membership grow in 2021. The IMPACT Center is home to our Club to Career Pathway Program, which supports the development, management, and completion of individualized Career Plans for our high school-aged members. It distinguishes and teaches the understanding of responsibility and privilege, and the need to work hard and be successful to achieve goals in their soon-to-be- adult life. It assists teens in creating a clear plan for their life after high school.
Can you share a favorite volunteer moment or volunteer story?
A few years ago, I brought a friend of mine, Kelly, on a tour at Sunny Hill Elementary. She loved it and asked how she could get more involved. I told her she could come read with one of our students who was having trouble with reading. Kelly read with the student and loved it and asked how she could get even more involved. Kelly began volunteering every Tuesday at Sunny Hill. She developed relationships with the children and talked to them about vacations, family issues, and struggles in school. Kelly often tells me her volunteer experience at our Club is extremely rewarding and is the highlight of her week.
Interesting in becoming a part of Barrington Area Volunteer Connection? Join us today at volunteer.thebavc.org!