Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.” It can take a team effort to develop leaders, and a graduate at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Goshen Clubhouse says it’s happened for him during his 11 years as a member of Club.
“I used to be one of the worst kids. But people — when they do good for you — it impacts you. Especially when they do it over and over. You learn to trust,” said Cory Chesnut.
He says even though he’s had struggles over the years, he’s been able to lean on the team members at the Goshen Club.
“I’ve had great role models here. (Club Experience Manager) Natalie (Jerlecki) has always helped me with everything I’ve gone through,” Chesnut said.
That support is something that’s key to setting young people up for success.
“Most kids without a support system, it’s harder to grow up. When you have a strong structural base, you have people who positively influence them,” he said.
Chesnut has taken part in many programs offered at Club, including Keystone Club and Junior Staff. Keystone Club provides leadership development opportunities for young people ages 14 to 18. They participate in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service. Junior Staff provides them on-the-job experience working around the Clubhouse.
It’s that experience that he’s now sharing with younger members — and drawing from his own personal experiences.
“I’ve seen kids get mad. With my past experiences, I know how to show them ways to make the wrongs into rights. I feel like it’s easier to work with them when you’ve experienced what they are seeing first hand,” he said.
Now that his high school career is coming to a close, Chesnut said he plans to enroll at IvyTech to do his general education college work, then transfer to Purdue University to study atmospheric science and meteorology. And he’s looking forward to what that will bring.
“You never know what to expect in that field. I just love the suspense of it,” he said.