Helping kids discover their purpose and reach their full potential. It’s at the heart of the mission for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County. It’s a mission that Stephanie Hamsher lives every day at the Nappanee Club.
The program manager has been part of the movement for nearly six years. She strives to help people understand that the team works hard to inspire and empower members.
“We’re here to support the whole child. People don’t often understand that we’re more than just fun after school,” she said.
Hamsher started her career as a behavioral expert for another organization, but said her job didn’t feel team focused so she was looking for something new. She started in Middlebury as front counter coordinator.
“About two days into the job, I was offered the job of games room coordinator,” she said.
She worked in Middlebury for eight months, then moved to Nappanee as the program manager and has been there ever since.
“This is my first management experience and I’ve learned a lot. I love coordinating the staff and determining what the programs will be and how they will help the kids learn,” Hamsher said.
Working with kids wasn’t something new for Hamsher. She said she wants to make members feel important in a safe space.
“A lot of our kids just need an adult to listen to them and take an interest in their lives,” Hamsher said. “I think sometimes adults don’t get kids. They’re trying to figure out who they are and navigate this big world. If we as adults can offer a safe place where they can explore, that’s the main goal.”
Creating that safe space is important — so they feel safe physically and emotionally.
“We do a lot of staff training on recognizing the emotional and mental needs of our kids. We need to approach them where they are and walk alongside them,” she said.
The variety of activities throughout the day is also a big motivation for Hamsher.
“I love the administrative aspect of it and hope I can continue to move up in the movement, but I also love being on the front line. I’m not a person who could sit in a cubicle all day,” she said.