By EMMA OBERDIECK
Your Voice Contributor
Growing up is tough. All young people deal with pressures from loved ones, society, and their social networks. But what if they also had to deal with hunger, danger on the streets and little time with their parents or guardians who must work multiple jobs just to make ends meet? There are thousands of children in the Kentuckiana area who face just these challenges every day. Thankfully, hundreds of them are able to turn to Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana for help.
I first learned of BGCK in the fall of 2010 when I was selected as part of the Ignite Louisville class of 2011. An advocate for professional development, I was excited to join the emerging leader program presented by the Leadership Louisville Center. One day per month for seven months, our class was invited into prominent businesses to learn from dynamic leaders how to become great leaders ourselves. Lessons in personal branding, building effective teams, leadership agility, and powerful communication were the benefits of those monthly sessions. And the networking we did with one another and with Louisville business leaders was invaluable.
A pivotal piece of the Ignite Louisville program is the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge where the future leaders are paired with non-profit organizations who have identified short-term needs for additional strategic and tactical resources. My peer team of seven “Igniters” was blessed to be matched with BGCK. Operating clubs in Shawnee, Jeffersonville, and New Albany, they captured our hearts with their passion for the kids of our community. Over the next several months we were able to partner with them to develop a new marketing campaign, provide frameworks for volunteer and communication programs, raise funds, and partner with board and staff to develop even stronger levels of leadership. It was a powerful experience for my team and when our Ignite Louisville program ended in the spring of 2011, most of us stayed actively involved with BGCK. I was fortunate to be invited to join the BGCK Board.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana is an out-of-school-time provider offering a safe haven for youth ages 6-18. Our mission: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those most in need of our services, to realize and develop their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens in a global society. We provide club locations where kids know they can count on being welcomed daily like family by adult youth professionals. We encourage whole-child development, focusing on character and leadership, education and career, health and life skills, the arts, and sports, fitness, and recreation. In addition, BGCK operates Kids’ Cafés in partnership with the Dare to Care food bank, providing all of our kids with a hot meal and snacks every day.
I’m proud to say we’re expanding. In late 2011, the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs had to close their doors on three clubs here in Louisville. Within two months BGCK renovated and reopened the Newburg club and began transporting members of the former Parkland and Portland clubs to our Shawnee location. And we are moving forward with plans to open a club on the St. Vincent de Paul campus in the Smoketown neighborhood.
Our successful reopening of the Newburg club was due in large part to the generous companies and individuals of our area. In only two months your donations totaled over $526,000. BGCK is incredibly grateful for your ongoing support as we continue to increase the number of young people we serve. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child in your community, please consider volunteering or making a donation to BGCK today. To learn more about these opportunities, the amazing kids we serve, or our June Big Event gala, July Golf Classic, and August 100 Fore Kids fundraisers, please visit http://www.bgckyana.org.
If your organization would like to offer a defining development opportunity for young leaders in your organization, consider the Ignite Louisville program. Visit the Leadership Louisville Center at www.leadershiplouisville.org.
Emma Oberdieck works in Leadership Strategies at Humana, Inc. In addition to her work with BGCK, she enjoys volunteering with Indiana Destination Imagination and serving in her church. Emma is a native of Louisville and resides with her family in southern Indiana.