I actually went to the Goshen Boys & Girls Club as a kid. I lived right down the street from it.
Boys & Girls Clubs can be really essential, especially for younger kids to have an opportunity to go somewhere safe after school, get the help that they need with homework, learn more social skills, and be involved with things they’re passionate about, like music and sports. Keeping them in a safe environment is always a plus. I think it’s really important, too, that kids develop positive relationships with adults, especially as they start to get older and see different things throughout their lives.
I’m the youth behavioral specialist at the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart. Basically, I’m here whenever a kid needs me. Historically with Boys & Girls Clubs, it’s the big group of kids. It’s never really been that one-on-one type of care. But when kiddos get overstimulated, frustrated, anxious – just feeling all these types of feelings that staff might not be able to take care of at that moment because they’ve got (not lately) 30 to 40 kids in a space – I go in and help the kid either work through what they’re feeling or give them sort of a break.
If I feel like a kiddo is really struggling, I can make referrals to other places like Oaklawn or any other child-serving organization, and work with their parents if their parents are struggling as well. Getting in contact with the schools if I’m noticing anything and seeing if they’ve noticed anything. Just trying to do my best to be the person who can make everybody be on the same page to help the kid best.
Patience is always the key, especially with working with kiddos. For someone else, maybe a kid not throwing a tantrum in a day isn’t a big deal, but for me that’s a huge deal. And I’m going to make sure I let that kid know I’m really happy and that I noticed they’re trying really hard to keep their cool.
Goshen is a great place to just build your life. I think a lot of people like to talk about growing in a small town that they want to leave. I guess I haven’t really felt a huge need to leave because of just how I’ve had really good experiences. I don’t know if I would have those experiences if I hadn’t grown up in Goshen. Just having people who believe in me – whether it was the Boys & Girls Club or Goshen College – and hooking me up with opportunities that maybe I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.
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