It is rare that older kids who don’t find the Boys & Girls Club until high school are greatly impacted by the movement. Typically, the most successful kids are those that come our way as elementary or middle school kids. I have had the rare opportunity to witness an exception to this. A teenager with only a year of involvement, whose life has been dramatically impacted by the club.
Daniel Rubio walked in my club one day to use the phone. An eighteen year old who attended Johnston High, Daniel was surprised to see a pool table and stayed for the afternoon to play. About a week later, he started showing up just about every day. Within a month, he was here before we opened and well after closing. Daniel got involved with everything I was doing. He always offered to help, even on weekends. His role in my club has evolved very quickly from oldest member to unofficial staff. Daniel handles our kids café program and is very active in coaching our football team.
When we got to know him, he was determined to quit school and work odd jobs with his dad. He was frustrated and felt as though school didn’t matter. He thought all jobs were the same and that college was for rich people only. The only problem in his plan was that he found both a natural ability and a genuine love for the Boys & Girls Club movement. We told Daniel that he could not continue to volunteer at the club unless he graduated high school and enrolled in college. Daniel rose to the challenge. With the help of our partner organization Southwest Key, Daniel has now graduated and is enrolled at a local community college. He starts classes this summer. Daniel has also found a new passion for Culinary Arts, which will be his area of study in school.
Daniel aspires to work at the club while he is in college. And while he is waiting for that opportunity, Daniel has found a job in a bakery in the mornings and volunteers his afternoons everyday at the club. He is an extraordinary kid. Daniel mentioned to me that if he didn’t walk in that one day to use the phone, his life would be totally different. From high school dropout to college student with a checking account in 12 short months; we are incredibly proud of him.