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Alicia Painter '11 (left) and Stacey Steele '02 work at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County after first serving as volunteers there.

Alums find niche at Club

January 17, 2014

Read about a recent award given to Earlham College in recognition of its partnership with the youth-serving organization.

Volunteering at the Richmond Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) were transformative experiences for Stacey Steele ’02 and Alicia (Kees) Painter ‘11.

Painter came to Earlham thinking she wanted to teach, while Steele thought she would study English and journalism. Steele has worked full time at BGC since 2003 and is now Director of Education, and Painter began just after graduating and is Director of the Jeffers Unit. Both volunteered at BGC as Bonner Scholars, a scholarship program for students who place a priority on community service.

“Volunteering here opened my eyes to what a Boys & Girls Club is, and what I could do here,” Painter says. “My work here took me off the path of being a teacher. I found that I like having teachable moment with kids, and as a disciplinarian here, I think I am making an even greater impact.”

As a student volunteer, Steele found herself wanting to spend more and more time at the Club.

“Taking a test was nothing compared to the opportunity to help kids live their day-to-day life,” Steele says. “Volunteering here really put that in perspective. I saw a lot of kids who were not reaching their potential, and I see education as the key.”

Steele says that through her volunteer work, she was able to put into use the skills and knowledge she was learning in the classroom.

“Working here at the Club was a great outlet for the strenuous work of my academic life on campus,” Painter says. “When you come here, it’s about the kids.”

Steele and Painter both credit Executive Director Bruce Daggy with helping to place them in the jobs they love.

“Bruce sees talent, and he cultivates it,” Steele explains.

The Earlham Connection

Through the years the Earlham/BGC connection has continued to grow. Four Earlham graduates are employees, while many more Earlham students volunteer as Bonner Scholars or interns.

 “Earlham is so helpful with giving us volunteers — Bonners and work-study students, and on Friday, I had a professor call who needed a place for a class to volunteer for two hours per week,” Painter says. “It seems Earlham is constantly sending students our way. It’s so great to have this connection with Earlham. We can’t run without volunteers. We truly wouldn’t be able to do all that we do without our Earlham volunteers.”

Painter adds that Earlham’s student-athletes also have been extremely helpful.

“Corey Campbell (’14) and a couple of other soccer players ran our soccer league, and the women’s basketball team helps each year with our Christmas shop. Our kids find the Earlham students interesting.”

The relationship, however, goes beyond the volunteer work. BGC members get the opportunity to visit the Joseph Moore Museum and to participate in the Women In Sports Day.

“Our girls really look forward to this event each year,” Painter says. “They get to swim and take part in the other activities. Then we get to watch a women’s basketball game. In addition, BGC members have been in Gospel Revelations and the Hand Drum Ensemble.

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