Boys & Girls Club prides itself on having caring staff members.
While serving up favorites like her famous beef stroganoff and tater tot casserole, Musgrave Unit chef, Ms. Karen, shows her passion for mentoring youth by also serving up love and advice by the bowlful.
Boys & Girls Club is a wonderful place to be a kid, filled with unique opportunities, friends and fun, but what truly makes the Club experience most special is its caring & devoted staff. Ms. Karen has been a part of the Club family for over 12 years.
Originally, from Gulfport, Mississippi, Karen’s family traveled a lot when she was a child. “When I was twelve years old, my dad finally settled in Reeds Spring, Missouri,” said Karen.
She has two sons, four grandchildren and a dog named Molly, all of whom she adores.
As a young adult, Karen attended a vocational technical school and worked as a nurse for over 20 years. After losing two women that she cared for deeply at Home Healthcare, Karen began searching for a new part-time opportunity. Having been a Club parent herself, Karen made the move to join the Musgrave Unit team.
“She is very dependable and always has a smile for the kids,” said Musgrave Unit Director, Steve Wallace. “As a matter of fact, most kids and staff call her mom.”
Karen currently serves dinner to an average of 70 kids each evening, but during a traditional year, she serves over 280 meals everyday.
“I actually miss that,” said Karen. “It was fun!”
Serving nightly meals has allowed Karen to build caring relationships with all of the staff and members at Musgrave. She recalls having mentored many Club members over the years, some of which are now young adults, pursuing their dreams.
“There are a few that I still keep in touch with,” she said.
For Karen, growing up was not always easy and home was not always a positive place. “You didn’t talk about that stuff then,” she said.
This experience has allowed her to look at her role through a different lens. “Because of my experience, I’m able to notice when kids are struggling.”
In addition to providing essential after-school meals, she strives to be a safe person, whom Club members can confide in “I work here because I love the kids and staff,” said Karen. “I also love making sure kids get to eat before going home.”
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Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield is set to expand through SHINE program, by Springfield Public Schools.
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