Henderson Unit Director, Mr. Edward, is passionate about helping the outcast build meaningful connections with the world around them. He is making a difference at Boys & Girls Club, by being for youth, what he wished he had when he was younger.
Edward was born in Apopka, Florida, to Edward Sr. and Florence Sands, construction worker and school bus driver. He is one of four siblings and the only boy. Edward’s time with his parents was tragically cut short and, by the time he was nine years old, he found himself lost without them.
“Life really got rough after that,” he said. Apopka was an area peppered with crime. As he bounced between family member’s homes, he was often aware that wherever he stayed, drugs, guns and large sums of cash were always in the next room. “Grandma's house was the hub for all 19 of her grandkids, so there was always someone coming or going,” Edward said. “And oftentimes, so were my things.”
Sports eventually changed things for Edward. His involvement in high school athletics provided him new opportunities. As he neared graduation, he wanted to pursue college and play football, but being a first-generation college student presented unique challenges. He was sure he wouldn’t be accepted into any programs, until he received a call from Evangel University offering him a spot on their team. “I took everything I had in savings, bought a ticket, packed two bags, and came to Springfield, MO, sight unseen,” he said.
College provided the consistency Edward needed to learn more about himself and to become the man he wanted to be. During his time at Evangel, he played sports, met his wife, made lifelong friends and earned his bachelor’s degree in recreation.
After graduation, he worked for the Branson school district, before returning to Evangel to coach football and track & field for eight years.
One of the things that Edward values most in life is family, and he uses his impeccable work ethic to build a secure life for them. Once, while Edward was still in college, he visited a professor’s house for dinner. “For hours everyone conversed, laughed, and had fun,” Edward said. “There wasn't a T.V. or game in sight…they truly enjoyed each other's company.” He knew this was something he wanted for his future family.
He also aims to build a sense of family at Boys & Girls Club. Because he moved around so much as a kid, Edward said he never really felt wanted. He works hard to make sure every Club kid feels wanted and accepted. He finds joy in helping youth build confidence and cultivate a sense of community. “It makes you feel good when you can have an impact on the negative self-talker,” he said. “There is no better feeling than to see them happy and feeling good about themselves.”
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