• An Impact: Career Professionals & Club Teens

    by Noah Sandel | Jessica Dunson

    On July 10, 2019, professional volunteers from across Indianapolis and our Club members gathered together at Ivy Tech Culinary & Conference Center to kick off our 5th Annual Take a Boy/Girl to Work Day event. The event began in the late morning with our Club members participating in career building activities with our BGCI team members. At noon, eager local professionals arrived on Ivy Tech’s campus, networking amongst each other before breaking off to meet their mentees.

    Club teens participating in Career building activities while local professional volunteers network

    Take a Boy/Girl to Work Day began in 2016 as “Take a Girl to Work Day” in celebration of 25 years since Boys Clubs of Indianapolis became Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. The annual event connects Club members with professionals amid their careers, both in the public and private sectors with varying fields of interest. The ultimate goal of the day is to expose pre-teen and teenage members to new career possibilities that our members would not be able to experience otherwise. Since its inception, hundreds of Club teens have spent a day with a professional at their job sites, giving our members a first-hand experience in the work field. This event doesn’t only leave an impact on our Club members but also the volunteers.

    After the conclusion of our 5th Annual Take a Boy/Girl to Work Day, we spoke with several of those directly impacted by the event. They agree they would’ve missed out on a great opportunity to be affected in such a positive manner if they hadn’t participated. We talked with longtime Club member Francisco “Cisco”, Republic Airways volunteer and intern, Jared Becraft, club member Kiley, and Jennifer Vigran, of Second Helpings, about their perspective on the Day.

    Cisco has been a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis “for as long as he can remember”. Cisco’s favorite activity at the Club is basketball. Carrying his playing pair in his backpack, a set of Nike Kyrie Flytrap II (clover-print), he whipped them out and showed them to us. Jared was a summer intern in the Compensation department and is a double-major student at the University of Kentucky in finance and accounting. He didn’t anticipate partaking in our event, but he said would’ve missed out on a great opportunity to impact the lives of our youth.

    Club member Cisco and his mentor Jared of Republic Airways

    When questioned what the experience held to him and kids like him, Cisco commented with what we enjoy hearing: New experiences.

    “It went really well because I got to do stuff with some new people. I learned lots of things like how to use a steering wheel in an airplane [simulator] and [use] the brakes. It’s good because it gives a lot of people the experience…”

    Airplane simulator at Republic Airways

    When asked what he witnessed during our event and how it changed him and the youth, Jared was excited to see opportunities blossom in the eyes of our youth.

    “I think it went really well! [I got to] kind of show them around. It’s kind of cool just to see the excitement of new experience that he had and honestly, for him, a career path in the future.”

    Continuing with the conversation, we wondered if he’d recommend our Day to others.

    “I [would] 100% recommend getting involved. I bonded with some of the other interns and got to know them better [by] showing these young men around and introducing them to the new things within the airline, whether it be like planes or just really what we do as a company. Across the board, for any company, I say get involved!”

    With that answer, he would rate it highly. On what it means for companies to get involved if they had the chance, Jared believes it is essential for them to find themselves in community outreach and volunteering.

    “It’s cool to be a part of that and represent what Republic means, not only to me , but try to show these guys what it’s like working for a company like Republic that holds so dear to themselves community involvement and how giving back can help, not only someone and give them a new perspective, but give yourself a new perspective about how many people don’t know certain career paths that are so close to them.”

    After hearing these conclusions about Take a Boy/Girl to Work Day, we held curiosity set to be unraveled on whether it was truly as successful and fulfilling as this mentee/mentor group had claimed. We turned to our member, Kiley, for her thoughts on how her day went with Denise Herd of Herd Strategies.  

    Kiley and her mentor Denise Herd of Herd Strategies

    “My experience with Denise was really great because we made ideas for her video [and] we made a flyer for a performance at White River Park. We made a brainstorm bubble about what exactly we wanted to do and what we wanted to have, and where we wanted to put flyers. Her co-workers are really fun, they’re very funny and they get along so well.”

    When asked to describe the day is in three words, she didn’t disappoint: “Amazing, fun, and eventful.”

    Lastly, we asked Jennifer Vigran, CEO of Second Helpings, an organization that offers hunger relief and free job training, about our event. When questioned what urged her to volunteer and get involved, she went back to a beloved concept here at Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis: Community.

    Second Helpings CEO Jennifer Vigran and her mentee.

    “It’s a great opportunity for youth to interact with adults in a professional environment, to learn about career paths they may never have known existed, and to receive personal encouragement and advice. We recognize that the Boys & Girls Clubs [of Indianapolis] do exceptional work. We never know how our interaction with one young person can build their confidence and inspire new dreams and aspirations.”

    The focus on helping our youth and others is important to Vigran and she made that apparent with her advice she’d give to the growing generation.

    “Life and careers are a journey.  You never know where it will take you.  Many of us aren’t in the careers we started in or even imagined.  The important thing is to develop your skills, your networks and be open to new opportunities and paths.”

    This feedback is important to receive for our annual event and we are thrilled it has been so positive and beneficial to both our youth and volunteers. We like knowing who shared their careers and impacted our youth brightly, so below will be a list of the wonderful companies, organizations, and individual titles of those who came out to mentor our youth this year.


    Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis

    Broad Ripple Development

    Citizens Energy

    City County Clerk

    College Mentors for Kids

    Covance Central Labs

    Deputy Mayor

    Employ Indy


    Herd Strategies

    Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization

    International Marketplace

    IPS Communications

    Journey Fellowship


    Marion County Clerks Office

    McFarling Foods

    Old National Bank

    Pacers Sports & Entertainment

    Pike Township Trustee


    Republic Airways

    Second Helpings

    Talk to Tucker

    Visit Indy

    Without these altruistic and amazing people, we wouldn’t have a successful Take a Boy/Girl to Work Day. We had over 50 members join from our Clubs around Indianapolis during their summer program. With the overall reaction so affirmative, we hope others will join us in next year’s Day and our other events, like Fore the Kids (August 15, 2019), an annual golf outing where you can sponsor and take a day to swing a few on the green, and our Youth of the Year Blue Door Gala (November 16, 2019) celebrating our Club members and awarding the exceptional 2019-2020 Elementary, Middle School, and High School Youth of the Year winners.

  • Colts Rookies Have Fun With Club Kids

    Colts Rookies Have Fun With Club Kids

  • Meet Club Kid Andrece

    Because of FIRST® LEGO® League, I want to be an engineer when I grow up.Andrece

    Andrece, age 11, has been a Club kid for six years. In 2015, he was named Middle School Youth of the Year for the LeGore Club. Find out how his Club and the staff changed his behavior and improved his self-esteem.Optimized-IMG_2291

    My favorite thing to do at the Club is FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®), because I get to build stuff out of Lego® and robot parts. And it’s a good way to help keep my frustration down.

    In FLL®, we build robots and compete in competitions with other Clubs and other FLL® teams in Indy. We also write research projects too.

    I have been doing FLL® for a year. Before I started, my behavior wasn’t good. I would get mad, cry, throw things and not listen to staff.

    Now, my behavior is great. I feel good about myself. It’s been helping with my frustration too. FLL® keeps me calm because I have to earn being able to play. Plus, I help with the young kids in Junior FLL®.

    I feel important now that I am part of FLL® because of my team, Heather (the staff member who is over FLL®) and my mom. It gives me confidence and helps me believe in myself. Because of FLL®, I want to be an engineer when I grow up.

    FIRST® LEGO® League introduces young people, ages 9 to 14 (grades 4-8), to the fun and excitement of science and technology.


  • Meet Club Kid Maleek

    Maleek’s highest point as a Club kid was when he made the honor roll. Former Unit Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis

    Maleek, a fourth-grader and an 11-year-old, has been a Club kid since February of 2012. Kids like Maleek regularly get written-off by adults who tend to lose patience when youth have challenging behavior. Maleek was having a hard time with authority when he first began coming to the Club. He was trying to cope with what was going on around him at school and at home. As a pre-teen, he didn’t know how to focus that energy in a more positive, productive way. Maleek felt misunderstood by the adults in his life. And, he struggled to fit in with his peers. His frustrations led to conduct issues.Picture5

    “I began working with Maleek closely to get a handle on his feelings and emotions to help him find better ways of expressing his frustration,” said Robert Marshall, former Unit Director at our Lilly Boys & Girls Club. “Each day when he arrives at the Club, he and I spend at least 30 minutes talking about how his day is going and ways to redirect any frustration he has. We have a mentoring relationship. Maleek just needed a positive male role model to spend time with and to give him attention on a regular basis.”

    Maleek has found several staff members with whom he really likes and enjoys working. Meaningful connections with those staff members have turned him into a learning sponge, soaking up as much as he can from them. Encouragement from adults outside of his family has enabled him to make better decisions and to do well in school; something that Maleek felt he was missing.

    When Maleek first came to the Club, his grades also needed improvement. Struggles with his behavior meant Maleek wasn’t getting the most out of his Club experience. Now that he’s learned how to better manage his behavior, he’s able to reap the benefits of Boys & Girls Clubs programs such as the available homework tutoring during PowerHour and participation in Club sports.

    Optimized-_MG_7758Maleek’s behavior and his grades have improved tremendously since he became more involved at the Club. “Maleek’s highest point as a Club kid was when he made the honor roll,” said Robert. “He was so excited and couldn’t wait to get to the Club to show me. I was extremely proud to share that moment with him.”

    Maleek’s story isn’t that different from the stories of many of our Club kids. They really do just need to know someone cares in order to become their best.

    Find out more about our programs, our Club kids and how you may join us in reaching the youth of Indianapolis at www.BGCINDY.org.

  • Meet Club Kid Nevaeh

    In ReadUp, Ms. Caroline and I read together, so it makes reading fun. My reading grades have gone up, and I get A’s and B’s.

    _MG_8368 CROPPEDNevaeh is one of the coolest 9-year-olds you’ll ever meet. She is talkative, opinionated, intelligent and is, in her words, “fantabulous.” You’d never guess that just a year ago, when she first started coming to the Boys & Girls Club, that she was terrified. “When I first came to Club, I was shy,” she said. “I didn’t know anybody.” Now, light years away from that reserved little girl, Nevaeh is a stand-out Club kid and a leader.

    Before coming to the Club, Nevaeh had a tough time in reading and spelling. “I’ve seen growth in her confidence over the past few months,” said Nevaeh’s favorite Club staff, Anita. “She works hard on her grades and is now on the same level as her other classmates.” Anita helps kids with their homework and tutors during PowerHour and Indiana Kids—both are hands-on tutoring programs focused on boosting Club kids academically.

    Nevaeh is also part of ReadUp—a one-on-one tutoring program for third through fifth graders struggling in reading. “In ReadUp, Ms. Caroline and I read together, so it makes reading fun,” said Nevaeh. “My reading grades have gone up, and I get A’s and B’s.” And, the positive feedback that she gets from adults she looks up to allows Neveah to reach her goals. Recently, she got an award for Indiana Kids as Most Improved. _MG_8297 REDUCED

    All that extra confidence is helping Nevaeh outside of the classroom too. Last year, she was the Grinch in the Club’s holiday play. At first, she was shy and spoke quietly during rehearsals. “Then, everyone cheered me on and inspired me to speak louder and have more confidence, and I did,” said Nevaeh.

    “Her confidence in herself has improved,” said Anita. “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean Nevaeh has to. She knows she’s pretty awesome being herself.”

    Nevaeh is just one of our amazing kids. From schoolwork and grades, to self-esteem and uncovering hidden talents, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis is changing the lives of Club kids like Nevaeh forever.