Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County names Earlhamite Volunteer of the Year
January 25, 2018
Being a man of his word is important to Charles Davis ’18, and that trait helped him to be named Volunteer of the Year by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County.
Davis, who grew up in Chicago’s foster care system, says he knows from experience how kids need someone they can trust and depend on.
“If I tell a kid that I’m going to do something or be somewhere, I make sure I’m there and that I do what I say I will,” he says.
Davis volunteered at the Club for three academic years and worked as an intern at its summer camp for two summers. He volunteered as part of Earlham’s Bonner Scholars program, which is a leadership program that awards scholarships based on community service. He is only the second Earlhamite to be named Volunteer of the Year.
During the school year Davis helped in the gym and in the education room. He also organized and led a weekly poetry group for a year, and he often led the Club’s Passport to Manhood program for pre-teen boys.
“We meet once a week, and this is a space where boys can ask any questions that they don’t feel comfortable about asking others,” he says. “We talk about hygiene, sex education, how to treat women, how to be a respectful father, son, brother, uncle, etc.”
“He does a really good job with Passport to Manhood,” says David Woolpy ’86, the Club’s associate executive director. “He does really well with all that he does, but more importantly, Charles is more like a full-blown staff member. Why he is outstanding is that he did everything he could to get the most out of the experience. He was warm and caring and enthusiastic, and those are the best kinds of volunteers. They make our organization better.”
Woolpy says Davis readily volunteered for overnight camps, too.
“It’s very unusual to have a volunteer do that,” Woolpy says. “He’s really fun and the kids love having him around.”
Davis says his experience of being placed in multiple foster homes showed him the importance of consistency.
“Looking back, the one thing that stands out is the consistency,” he says. “I’ve been there for three years straight. I could have volunteered with a different organization every semester, but I was drawn to the Boys and Girls Club. It’s about the kids.
“I used to be bitter. I hated the system and authority, but as I got older I realized that I was only hurting myself. I wanted to use my situation to show kids that if I made it, so can you. I want to make sure that kids weren’t going through some of the same things I went through.”
Davis, an English major at Earlham, hopes to become a paralegal and children’s advocate after he graduates this spring.
Highlights of his time with the Club include the first overnight trip after the kids were asleep and the counselors were hanging out.
“I realized I was on the other side,” he says. “It was an eye-opening experience. A year or two earlier I had been one of the kids, and now I was older and on a new journey. I realized the opportunity I had to impact the kids’ lives for the better.”
Another highlight for Davis were the two summer camp internships.
“Imagine me being a black kid from the city of Chicago going to a summer camp with cabins, ponds and back woods,” he says. “I did not know how to fish, how to shoot a bow and arrow. I had never been swimming.
“The kids laughed at me a lot, and so did I. I learned something everyday about myself, about nature, about those kids and about the world.”
He promised the kids he would get in the pond on his last day of his last summer camp, and Davis stayed true to his word.
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success.
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and email@example.com.