When the Club makes an impact, you want to share that with others. For Natasha Lantz, that sharing has moved from being a Club kid to helping members through various struggles.
Lantz is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Youth Behavioral Specialist and Licensed Social Worker. She works with members at the four clubhouses in the county, along with assisting the KidsCare division.
“When you’re a Club kid, you’re in for life. You always have a way to stay connected with people at Club,” she said.
Lantz said she’s opted to stay connected for different reasons during different phases of her life, but the main reason is the support she’s received.
“As a teen, people believed in me and told me I could do it. After college, a board member reached out to me and encouraged me to apply for an area director position at the Club I attended when I was a teen.”
She headed up the Middlebury Club from 2018 until taking on her current role in 2021.
“I stay because of my love and passion for people and collaboration. Boys & Girls Clubs give me an opportunity to work with many different populations of people. I am not sure I would get that if I didn’t work here,” she said of her ability to work with kids, their families and the teams at the Clubs.
“We’re focusing on building a mental health system within Boys & Girls Club for the first time so I’m constantly being challenged. I get to work with groups of kids, see some individually and I get to hang out and build relationships with them. I couldn’t do that if I was solely in a therapist role.”
Lantz said her goal is to lift kids up and see their full potential.
“I have so much compassion for them. I believe in their potential because someone did that for me. Even if their current circumstances are hard, it doesn’t have to determine their future. That fuels a lot of what I do every day,” she said.
Relationships are at the heart of what she strives to build each day.
“When I started, I never realized how much I love working with children and building those relationships with them,” Lantz said.
While working with kids who are struggling can seem like a daunting task, Lantz said that doesn’t define what she does — or what the kids can accomplish.
“The perception may be that I deal with the behavioral problems, but in reality I’m working with the kids and the team on a plan for improvement and success in all areas of their life. I’m just one piece of the puzzle, but together we can work toward success,” she said. “I help them and their family with compassion, but I understand what my limitations are. That keeps the job from becoming overwhelming.”
During the times it does become overwhelming, she relies on her faith and friends to see her through — and lives the strategies she helps kids incorporate into their lives.
“I have to make sure I’m pouring into myself, too. I surround myself with people I can talk to. I take the pressure off myself by creating some boundaries with the kids and with my fellow team members,” she said. “I’m big with my faith in Jesus Christ. I take time to meditate and pray. It’s my biggest coping strategy.”
At the end of the day, she looks for the positives in what has happened.
“It’s all about perspective. If I was able to interact and connect with one child, it was a good day. You can think about the negative things that happened or you can find the positive in those situations.”
Her best advice to get through a tough day?
“People need to take the time to do something they enjoy with a kid. It can really recharge you – even in the middle of the day.”