To start 2023 on our BEST foot, I called my friend Lynn Reins, CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, and asked her to share her thoughts for the new year. I’m honored to bring you her words today.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way … the last three years have been hard. The best descriptor of 2020 I heard was “dumpster fire.” I mean, c’mon, it’s true! The world just went up in flames as we watched with no hose in sight. We (the entire human race) saw disease like we’d never seen before, hate in our streets, and the Tiger King ruled our screens (seriously, that was bizarre).
2021 brought vaccines and people slowly re-entering the world, but regulations changed daily at times, and it was so hard to keep up. If I never hear the word “pivot” again it will be too soon. 2022 brought the “end” of the pandemic, even though new variants were still arriving, but the world seemed to almost get back to normal.
And here we are in 2023. The Earth has made another orbit around the sun, and we celebrate the beginning of another year. Is it just me, or does this one feel different? Special? I think it was something in that bitter cold most of us faced as 2022 came to a close, but the air smells somehow different.
I love winter. Where some people see barren and dead, I see fresh and clean, a blank canvas to create a new masterpiece. When I walk out the door on a cold winter day, I immediately take a deep breath. I can fill the little ice crystals forming as the crisp, clear air fills my lungs. It is one of my favorite things ever. Winter air is cold, bright, and sparkling. It smells like new beginnings . . . can you smell it?
I’m excited to see what 2023 holds for my Club and the Movement as a whole. As we take time to reflect on the close of a year and the beginning of another, what do you envision? What is the ideal Club experience to you? Is it serving more members? Bringing in new and innovative programs? Opening a new club site (or five)? Bringing in guest speakers? Creating emotionally safe spaces? Enhancing social emotional learning opportunities? Ensuring inclusion? Take a moment . . . close your eyes . . . see that ideal Club experience in your mind. Visualize it.
Now hold that vision in your head and think about the components that you control. Every person from frontline youth development staff to volunteers to program directors to CEOs have a role to play. What’s yours? How can you be the most successful version of yourself when it comes to creating safe, sustainable Club experiences for the incredible kiddos we serve?
That may be different for every person, but one thing is for certain, you can always find someone to celebrate your successes with you and support you when things don’t go your way. One way to do that is by connecting with Club professionals through online communities. Facebook has the BGCA Youth Development Group and several others that are position specific, for example a Teen Director group, one for managers at Clubs, and a CEO Exchange. The new BGCA.net also features Movement Groups. Go find your community and get connected.
Reach out to the phenomenal BGCA National Staff for support. If you have an idea for a program, need help with a policy, want to serve kids in a new neighborhood, they can help! And they always seem to go above and beyond, all we have to do is ask. And don’t miss the opportunities that Spillett Leadership University offers – maybe the best version of you is becoming a Tier 1 National Trainer this year and teaching others the way of the Club. Maybe it is completing the next level of trainings offered for your position. The tools are there, you just have to use them.
Are you still holding on to the vision, that ultimate Club experience? No one person can make it a reality for every member we serve, but together we can keep making strides towards it. We just have to do the work. Think about this winter as a new beginning, it’s the perfect timing really. “New Year, New Me” and all that jazz. Take some time to plan how you want to start new, whether by making resolutions, setting intentions or manifestations, plotting out a vision board, or just writing out your ideal Club experience. Then share your plans with others so that we can all see what we can accomplish together this year.
Happy New Year, my fellow Club professionals. Let’s go make a difference!
What is your vision for the ideal Club experience? How are you kicking off the new year? We want to hear! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.
About Lynn Reins
Lynn Reins joined the BGCA Movement in November 2010. She quickly discovered Boys & Girls Clubs was where she belonged. She currently serves as the CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg, in Parkersburg, WV where she lives with her husband and three kids.