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As Academic Coordinator for O’Reilly Unit Boys & Girls Club, Ms. Helen believes her passion for helping kids succeed is a gift she has a responsibility to use. The local graduate student garners fuel from hearing youth laugh & watching them grow. She revels in the reward of creating a space where kids can experience relief from their worries…A place where kids can be kids.

Growing up in the southwest region of Missouri, Helen moved to Springfield when she was 14 years old, after her parents divorced. Taking up a new residence with her mom & brother, in the middle of her high school years wasn’t easy. “The age of 14 is no fairytale for anyone, but this was an extremely tough time for me,” Helen said. However, it was in this season that Helen said she discovered her passion for helping others.

Helen with her mom and brother

She joined the Junior Board of Isabel’s Crisis Nursery of the Ozarks. “This opened my eyes to the gloomy cloud that hung over so many children and families in our community,” she said. “As well as the amazing work of non-profit organizations.”

She would go on to volunteer for several non-profit organizations during her time at the University of Arkansas, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in educational studies.

When Helen is not at work, she enjoys traveling to see family & friends, visiting Table Rock Lake and hanging with her goldendoodle, Jasper.

Helen and her furry friend!

“However, the most important thing to me is to laugh,” Helen said. “Life is just no fun if you can’t find things to laugh about and people to laugh with.”

Helen brings this affinity for enjoyment to work with her. “I have only worked at the Club for four short months, and I could not even count the special moments on two hands,” she said.

Helen reminisced about one of her favorite moments. Club member, Ava, has become Helen’s side-kick. When Ava was going through a difficult time at school, lashing out because of circumstances out of her control, Helen was able to be an extra support for her. “She needed someone to talk to and someone to acknowledge the best parts of her,” Helen said. “She allowed me to be that person.”

Helen posing with Club members during GEM 2022

This experience helped Helen find her place in the Boys & Girls Club family. She hopes to always be someone who kids can depend on, someone to laugh with, someone to trust & someone to look up to.

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