I am thrilled to bring you a conversation I recently had with Floretta Robinson, Club Director at THE PLAYERS Championship Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of North Florida, located in wonderful, glorious St. Augustine. (Which, full disclosure, holds a VERY SPECIAL place in my heart as I graduated from Flagler College and then worked as a teacher for a couple of years in this incredible city.)
Since taking the reins, Floretta has overseen staff and programming transitions that saw the Club’s NYOI results skyrocket, particularly in the areas of Adult Connections and Staff Expectations. I spoke with her to find out about what she and her staff have done:
You quoted to me that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” What is your vision for the overall feeling your members have at THE PLAYERS Championship Unit?
My vision is one that is filled with love, respect, and a sense of belonging. A vision that models the spirit of excellence with a confident, intentional, and fruitful approach targeted to transform lives.
How have you been intentional about hiring staff who can carry out this vision?
The way I go about hiring staff is to seek retirees first. This approach helps target consistent, dedicated, and reliable energetic individuals who desire to keep busy. They aren’t driven by the pay, and are ok with just part time hours.
But in every case, even with non-retirees, I focus on finding good-hearted individuals who are passionate about children. This determination is often revealed during the interview process. Body language, approach, and transparency during the interview help with the decision to hire.
You want to have a “sense of belonging by way of family” at your Club. Why are family-type relationships so important for your members?
Family-type relationships are so important to my Club members in many ways. Because of the variety of backgrounds and upbringing of the kids, a sense of belonging is for us often defined as the foundation for building a solid Club.
Club members who have a strong family support system continue feeling a sense of belonging and nourishment as they can relate on many levels by way of their approach, demeanor, and “lingo” when communicating with staff.
On the other hand, there are Club members who are the opposite, with a lack of family support. Because of this, their sense of belonging is driven by getting attention from us daily, one-on-one interaction, and words of affirmation.
Understanding what members need is important for both approaches because it helps cultivate trust with staff.
How have a strong program structure and high behavior expectations taught your members about belonging?
Structure has been a huge part of our impact. When kids have structure, it opens a door that leads to accountability, leadership, responsibility, and respect. Believe it or not, most kids desire CONSISTENT structure- which is not a bad thing! When you establish it at the beginning of the program calendar, you will see later in the year what impact it has made and how it has positively influenced your members even more than they realize.
If you could give some bullet point tips to another Club Director on how staff can make members feel supported, what would those be?
- Treat the youth with respect. We respond “yes ma’am” or “no sir” as a means of respect, even when addressing members.
- Develop healthy boundaries, particularly around communication and how far we go with members, and with physical gestures and contact with members of all genders.
- Be consistent in word and in deed. This nurtures members’ sense of being valued.
- Be swift to hear and slow to speak. Sometimes a child just wants to be heard without getting feedback. Be sure to validate youth’s feelings.
- Have regular conversations and spend one-on-one time with your members whenever possible, and praise them for their good efforts. When you’re able to recall a good deed from a previous week, it really shows how much you care for them.
- Plant a “Take Away”- something that is said or done that the youth is able to walk away with, leaving them feeling empowered at the end of the day.
Floretta has been in the Movement 1.5 years, and in her free time she likes to travel and spend time with her family.