A letter from Duane Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of St Joseph County

An essential ingredient of providing high-quality, impactful programming is highly trained and motivated Youth Development Professionals. Staff and leaders are at the heart of every successful youth program. Recruiting and retaining experienced, qualified individuals and giving them the support and training necessary can lead to world-class outcomes.

We aim for Boys & Girls Clubs to be a great place to be from. Meaning, we strive for every staff member to obtain a grade-A work experience, so they are professionally and personally developed. Thus, they are prepared for any work experience that follows them.

Investing in our staff comes in many forms. We have recently launched an extensive AmeriCorps program, where 20 staff members can earn additional income and receive an Education Award that can be used for any post-secondary education and training. Additionally, we provide Responsive Classroom Certification to facilitate better student engagement and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Training to help staff understand, recognize, and prevent additional ACEs at the Club.

We are working toward creating a culture where success is inevitable for everyone. When you see the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County on an applicant's resume, you know you will be hiring a quality employee. Not everyone starts out a CEO, but start here, and you can be one.


We are thrilled to inform you of some big changes coming this fall! The Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County is a recipient of a historic $7.9 million grant from the Indiana Department of Education.

With the Student Learning Recovery Funds, to be expended over a two-year period, we will expand our academic enrichment and afterschool programming across five school systems: School City of Mishawaka, South Bend Community School Corporation, South Bend Empowerment Zone, John Glenn School Corporation, and Career and Success Academies.

The program, called STRIVE, will be offered to local students free of charge. For more information visit our website.

VolunteerS NEEDED

With the launch of the STRIVE after school program this fall, we are seeking consistent volunteers to tutor students of greatest academic need, in an effort to combat pandemic learning loss.

Volunteers will work alongside programming specialists from Robinson Community Learning Center to facilitate small group and one-on-one literacy tutoring and from Riverbend Community Math Center to focus on math fluency. In addition, there are opportunities to engage with students through social and emotional learning and entrepreneurship programming.

We will have openings at 23 sites across the county! Click the button below to fill out a volunteer application.


Youth Development Professional Kathy Troiola has worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County for over 11 years, winning over the hearts of many Club kids in the process. However, over two of her years at the Club have been spent mentoring and building a relationship with one child in particular: eight-year-old Club member Manuel.

Each afternoon this past 2020 school year, Kathy and Manuel sit down together at our Harrison location, to teach one another. While Kathy began as the teacher, Manuel takes any opportunity to teach her about other things that interest him too- a true reflection of their relationship and what Manuel has learned about teaching through Kathy’s kindness and dedication to his success.

Through Kathy’s teaching, Manuel’s reading has improved tremendously. “He has gained confidence, he’s not afraid,” Kathy describes. Now, when Manuel attends class, he always asks if he can read to teachers, administrators, and fellow students.

“I start to feel really great when I read out loud,” Manuel, 8

Kathy has made a huge impact on Manuel’s life, and has been critical in his reading improvement and overall Club experience. “I’m very proud of him,” she says.


It is not unusual to hear lines from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, and the occasional giggle, float through the halls of the Boys & Girls Clubs when the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC) puts on programming. Through our partnership, both Harrison and O.C. Carmichael sites are able to offer RCLC’s extremely popular Shakespeare program to Club Members.

While many of the members participating in the program are in the third through fifth grade range, the program is available to all. Club kids of all ages love learning about theatre, acting, costume design, and more.

“When I first heard about Shakespeare I wasn’t sure if the kids would be interested - I couldn’t be happier that I steered away from that impulse. It was the best experience for our kids. Exploring something they’d never done before, and probably would have never done if it wasn’t for the RCLC, it was just incredible.” - Ashley Murray, Harrison Unit Director


Kids everywhere have spent nearly all of their time throughout the past year on-screen. This summer, we looked to change that with our Screen-Free Summer program. Over 500 students from six sites participated in our seven-week program filled with tons of activities to keep kids engaged and away from their screens.

Once a week, students from each site visit the Five Star Life Summit in Union, Michigan: a 300-acre leadership training facility. At Summit, Club members and staff try archery and hatchet throwing, horsemanship, boating, fishing, hiking, and much more!

“By the end of the summer, kids will have learned how to recognize and manage their thoughts, emotions, and actions. They will also walk away with multiple new experiences, friendships, and hard skills.” - Aubrey Danielson, Five Star’s Director of Development.


Written by Keystone Treasurer, Freedom J.

Keystone is a club for teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs. We work to make the Club a safer and better place to be. Just this year, we’ve held multiple events centered around personal development.

On April 9th, we hosted our Foster the Fun Night. Our goal that night was to host a fun event for kids in foster care. Also, to offer an opportunity for kids who may not normally come to the Boys & Girls Clubs a fun experience with music, food, games and prizes. This event took lots of hard work and dedication to ensure that it would run smoothly.

Keystone Teens at their successful Foster the Fun Night.

Our last project of the year was a huge success. Our aim was to make benches for the Club out of recycled plastic tops. By next year we will have a completed bench made entirely out of bottle caps we collected. In the future, we plan to expand the Club and the audience we reach by getting more people to the Boys and Girls Clubs and we hope to get more teens involved in the Keystone Club as well.

Board SPotlight: Kristin Pruitt

"Each child makes this community better."

Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, Lake City Bank

Current Board Chair

What was your introduction to the Club?

Lake City Bank held a “Reality Store” at the Harrison site, which is a program we designed to help kids begin to understand basic budgeting concepts in a fun way. I was immediately struck by the excitement the kids had while learning something new. I was so impressed by how well the staff worked with each child – they clearly knew the kids and understood how to engage with each child effectively. I felt an enthusiasm for the mission that I thought could translate into a commitment to find ways to strengthen the Club and expand its reach and impact.

What makes this place special?

What I’ve always thought, but what became very apparent during the pandemic, is that the Club is a critical place for kids.It’s a place where they are safe and can get their homework done, sure. But more importantly, it’s a place where they can be loved and nurtured – a place where they belong. Each child makes the community better just by being there and being themselves. We all need that, and for many of our kids, the Club setting is a uniquely positive one.

What makes you excited for the Club right now?

We have long tried to solve the problem of how to scale up without compromising our quality of programming. With the new STRIVE program launching this fall, we are going to do just that. Though it’s a tremendous challenge, the opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds more children each year is thrilling.

As we move forward, we’re being more and more deliberate about collaboration with other organizations who provide complementary services to provide greater assistance to children and their families. It’s a truly exciting time for the Club and this community!


Over the past five years, the Club has been the recipient of Lippert’s generosity in more ways than we can count. Lippert employees have helped with spring cleaning, painted our art room, and pulled weeds outside. They’ve played basketball with Club kids, served as mentors, donated items for our Club families, and assisted in fundraising efforts.

“Our team members continue to engage with the Club because we care about these kids and their success,” says Michilah Grimes, Lippert Director of Corporate and Community Impact. “More than anything, we want them to know that they have someone who believes in them, someone in their corner.”

“They don’t just talk about community impact. They are here, walking the walk and putting in the time and energy,” says Jacqueline Kronk, BGCSJC CEO. “We couldn’t be more grateful for this relationship and commitment to our kids and mission.”


On June 11, for the first time in our organization’s history, we held our annual dinner and auction on site at the O.C Carmichael Jr. Youth Center in South Bend.

Due to pandemic restrictions, we were unable to hold the 10th Annual Greatest Kids Celebration in 2020. In its place, we hosted this year’s event, INSPIRED. Our 200 guests were able to tour the building, see recent renovations, and meet Club staff and kids. The event raised more than $750,000 to further our mission.

It was an evening of firsts, as Manette Tepe was surprised with the inaugural Manette Tepe Volunteer of the Year Award. Manette, who was crowned the first Great Big Kid in 2011, has chaired the Greatest Kids event since. Her dedication to the Club is unmatched, and was well articulated by her mentee of 10 years and former Club member Chloe Teall, who presented her award. This award will continue to be presented annually to an individual who makes significant contributions for the kids we serve.

Thank you to all who attended and invested in our mission. We truly are stronger together.

See more photos from the event here!

Thanks to the generosity of the South Bend Alumni Association, we’ve had a unique opportunity to beautify our corner of the community. On the night of the event, with help from our Club kids, we unveiled a mural that reads “Stronger Together” created by local artist Cassandra Graber. The mural faces our front lawn, serving as a reminder to everyone at the O.C. Carmichael Youth Center the immense value of collaboration and teamwork.

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Join us in making 2021 a year of exponential growth and impact by joining our Boys & Girls Clubs team. We are currently hiring for a number of positions! Please check out our opportunities below for more information.

574-232-2048 | bgcsjc.org