“Great Futures Start Here” is more than just a tagline for the Boys & Girls Club. It’s very real for its alumni. This week, several former Club members gathered to share their experiences with community leaders.
“When I came to the Club, I was a little rough around the edges,” said Casey Ifedi, an alumni of the Milton Road Boys & Girls Club. “The Boys & Girls Club gave me structure and an outlet for my energy. Being the oldest of three brothers, I never had a big brother as a role model. At the Club, I found mentorship and people to look up to.”
Casey went on to attend East Carolina University and start his own nonprofit to mentor other young men.
Being a part of the Club changed Casey’s life. The same was true for Ja’lynn Gray. She joined our Marsh Road Club when she was 6 years old and found not only a safe place to go after school, but a place where she found family.
“The Club is forever a key piece of my foundation,” she said. “It changed the course of my family forever.”
After graduating from the University of Virginia, Ja’lynn is now a nurse. She credits her success to all of the opportunities and mentors she had at the Club.
Tatiana Aguilar, a former member of the Marsh Road Club, feels the same.
“If it wasn’t for the Club, I would still be searching for my purpose,” she said.
The Club gave Tatiana confidence she didn’t have before. The once shy young lady now has no trouble speaking passionately in front of a crowd. Her Club experience has inspired her to pursue a career in law. She’s currently enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bernard Neal, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte alumni association, hears stories like this all the time from other former members. But, he it also reminds him of his own story.
Bernard grew up in public housing in a rough part of Charlotte. But, every day, the Boys & Girls Club came with a bus to pick him up.
“I owe most of who I am – as a man, a father, a pastor – to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club,” he said. “We should stop wondering how to fix the problems our city is facing when we already have an answer. The Salvation Army saves lives. I know, because it saved mine.”
There’s still an opportunity to contribute to this year’s Great Futures campaign. Make a difference in a child’s life today.