Updated: Mar 23
Above my desk at home hangs a picture of me as a small child. I was two, maybe three at most. In the picture, a nurse is administering medicine as my dad lovingly looks on. While I can’t say I remember that day, I most certainly remember the impact of all the times I’ve spent being served by others. As a child growing up with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease, I often found myself being comforted and served by family, friends, and many times, complete strangers.
Pain and adversity are things we all face at different times in our lives. Whether physical, emotional, or mental, pain is not something we usually choose or control—especially when we’re kids. At the age of 12 I began to understand that this pain, not of my choosing and outside of my control, may ultimately dictate the path of my life. I personally feel and believe that pain produces perspective. When we endure adversity or loss we value others, we value time, we see life through a different lens, and we often make decisions with that perspective as our guiding light.
Just one yes, by what was then a total stranger, changed my perspective and ultimately laid the foundation for my belief in serving others—no matter how big or small the act may be—just one act, one YES, can alter a life forever.
Around the same time that I gained perspective about my own circumstance, I also learned the power of just one, simple, “YES”. It was shortly after my twelfth birthday, and I was in the hospital receiving treatment, when the Philadelphia Eagles’ star defensive tackle, Andy Harmon, gave me a call. Growing up a huge Eagles fan, you can imagine the impact his words had on me at the time. Andy simply told me, “everything was going to be okay.” Years later we remained in touch, sharing little moments that shaped my young life. Just one yes, by what was then a total stranger, changed my perspective and ultimately laid the foundation for my belief in serving others—no matter how big or small the act may be—just one act, one YES, can alter a life forever.
So, it is with that perspective, after 11 years serving in youth development—regularly supporting more than 40 Boys & Girls Clubs organizations around the country—and 3 years in global philanthropy at Under Armour, I’m humbled and excited for the opportunity to lead the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore.
Since the organization was founded in 1860 in Hartford, CT, Boys & Girls Clubs has grown to serve over 4 million youth in more than 4,000 Club locations nationwide. The organization has truly become a movement. By providing expertly-trained staff that deliver outcome-based programs in a safe, caring environments we bring our mission to life: to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Today, our 5 Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore locations reach more than 500 young people throughout our city. As we begin work on a new chapter in our organization’s story, we do so with a clear vision: every young person deserves a nurturing place to become what they desire.
While the headlines often remind us of the pain born from historical inequities in our city, our opportunity to serve young people—especially those who need us most—is striking. Striking because neither pain or circumstance define a life or a city. It is our perspective and all the little moments of service that ultimately define who we become. That is our opportunity and what drove me to YES.
So, with the perspective of all those we serve in mind and our vision at the forefront, we get to work. It may take time, and it will most certainly take a team, but I’m confident in what the Boys & Girls Clubs will become for Baltimore…just one YES at a time.