Club MEMBER Story: The Power of the Club Experience

Today’s Club Member Story comes from a young man who truly understands the power of the Club Experience, because he lived it. Read on to see how the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County inspired Christopher to fulfill his potential.

When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate with other folks. I never thought for one split second that anyone is gonna be my friend or to hang out with me after school. I was alone. Until I found the Boys & Girls Club in my community.

It all started in the summer of 1996. I was 7 years old and I was nervous, shy but very excited about going to summer camp. My mother was excited too. So my mother drove me to the Bywater Boys & Girls Club, my hometown Club, and without a doubt, I was speechless for the moment, looking around their games room. A billiards table, a ping pong table, a Foosball table, a video game station, computer lab, swimming pool. It was a dream come true. The kids were so excited and very friendly too. The staff were so nice and always doing a great job supervising kids and making safety a #1 priority.

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When I stepped inside and completed my registration, there was one man who has been watching me to strive for excellence. One man who accepts everybody as an individual. One man who takes failure as a learning process to success. That man is no other than Reginald Broddie. Reggie was a unit director for the Bywater Club and was our Chief Professional Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He’s my mentor and he has given me a number of opportunities to be successful. He gave me advice on how to be a productive young man and he treats me like a son of his own (not literally because I have a father of my own).

During my Club years, I participated in a variety of Club programs such as SMART  Moves, Passport To Manhood, Torch Club, Keystone, and Youth Of the Year! They helped me grow socially, academically, spiritually, developmentally, emotionally, and maturely because these programs had taught me to stay in school & get good grades, respect women, listen to adults for advice, never stop learning new things, do not be afraid to ask questions, and make friends who are very serious about education. That made me feel extremely motivated more than ever.

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Torch Club has been the extraordinary stepping stone of leadership and community service development, and I participated in a leadership summit in Washington, DC. I was also crowned as the 2003 BGCA National Spelling Bee Champion in the Junior High Division. It was absolutely a BIG accomplishment. Then I fell in love with Keystone because not only you can create your own activities as a team, you can learn how you can give back to your community, search for a career, and more importantly, graduate high school on time. The best part is you get to travel across the country go to regional & national Keystone conferences, exchanging ideas with other Club teens and advisors on everyday issues we Americans face.

I got my first job as a busboy at Ledo Pizza, cleaning tables and became the highest paid busser in the city.  I was named the 2007 BGCA Organizational Youth Of the Year and advanced in the state competition. I attended the 40th Annual National Keystone Conference in the Twin Cities. I graduated high school with public service honors plus a few scholarship honors, and a varsity letter for being a member of the football team manager. After that, I got an acceptance letter from Anne Arundel Community College!

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During my community college years, I gave back to my community as a college student, as a student activist, and as a Club alumni. I found a job as a Junior Staff at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County. It happened so fast I couldn’t believe it.  I served as a local Keystone Advisor and I’ve met a lot of awesome like-minded professionals from all over the country. In 2012, we won the National Keystone Club of the Year!

I graduated with an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development in December 2013. I worked as a Temporary Support Assistant in a special education school, assisting teachers and teacher assistants with lesson planning, one-on-one correspondence with students with disabilities, learning different disabilities other than my own. It was a unique experience as well.

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Now I am residing near Atlanta, searching for work in the education & youth development sector. I am eager to return to the Boys & Girls Clubs Movement as an employee and continue my legacy as a Club professional and to also continue my journey to be an Boys & Girls Clubs executive. I know the road ahead isn’t easy but it takes time to actually accomplish your goal.

In conclusion, the Boys & Girls Clubs has changed my entire life from a nervous little kid into a well-known, confident, super-intelligent, and happy man of who I am today.

What an inspiring young man! And a great reminder that as Boys & Girls Club staff, we can truly make a difference in the lives of those who need us most. 

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Are you a proud Club kid like Christopher? Connect with other Club alumni on the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Alumni & Friends Facebook.

Has the Boys & Girls Club made a difference in your life? Do you have an inspiring story from a Club kid to share? Comment below or contact me at ClubXBlog@bgca.org and YOU could be featured on the Club Experience Blog!

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