For nearly 60 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis (BGCM) has provided quality free extracurricular programs for children in the local community. “Their mission is to inspire children to become the best versions of themselves through guidance and education,” says Julia Beckel ’22.
Beckel and Patrick Reddick ’23 are working as BGCM interns as part of Rhodes’ 2021 Summer Service Fellowship, a selective and intensive program designed to help students gain real work experience with a local nonprofit of choice.
Reddick, an economics major and member of the Rhodes golf team, was introduced to BGCM by his former coach Bill Cochran, who is a long-standing volunteer of the organization. “We provide breakfast, lunch, and a snack for the members every day and work hard to make sure they have a fun day. We do this while reducing summer learning loss by facilitating activities that make the kids think,” says Reddick, who hopes to make a difference in participants’ lives by developing positive, impactful relationships.
Members of the Club come from difficult backgrounds, and many of the BGCM programs focusing on character development, healthy lifestyle, and academic and career success are administered by trained professionals, encouraging kids to make meaningful engagement with themselves and their environment. Reddick particularly enjoys the Passport to Manhood program, which prepares boys to become adults. Activities range from proper handshake etiquette to discussions about personal/identity issues facing young men.
Beckel, who is a history major, is drawing from past experiences working with churches and children's camps to create fun, interactive lesson plans and activities such as grammar-based games or math games for children in the 9- to 11-year-old group. “I have been able to see the challenges of virtual learning on young children and their teachers,” says Beckel, who believes the experience is preparing her to become a better educator.
Beckel and Reddick both appreciate real-life exposure to issues facing nonprofits in general and Memphis-based organizations in particular. “I do feel like I have made an impact,” says Reddick, “and I feel more connected to the Memphis community. Meeting with the Summer Service Fellows once a week has also been a great experience, as I have learned more about the challenges that face Memphis and the ways that different nonprofits combat these issues.”
By Tram Truong '24