Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Rhodes
Melissa Rhodes joined Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club when she was just 8 years old. Little did she know then that belonging to the Club would come to define her life in so many ways. In fact, Melissa and her brother Rich belonged to the Club through their formative years. Melissa stayed active through middle school and high school, getting involved with Torch and Keystone Clubs, and later going on to become a summer camp CIT/Counselor (even through her college years.)
When she was in the 10th grade, the Club profiled her in its 1994 Annual Appeal Brochure. At that time, she shared that her life goal was to “be able to raise a family with an awareness of the issues facing youth in 2000 and beyond.”
Today, these many years later, Melissa has done just that as she now serves Grenville Baker’s Director of Programs and Professional Development. As a lead architect of the Club’s many enriching, engaging and educational programs, Melissa is indeed ensuring that our whole family of 1200+ youths not only understand the issues of the 2000s, but also comprehend that they have bright futures!
Indeed, Melissa has spent 20 years in the Boys & Girls Club movement, serving in leadership roles both regionally and nationally. When asked why she has dedicated her life to the Boys & Girls Club she remarks, “The Club meant so much to me and my brother Rich when we were young. Our parents were separated, so my mother was essentially a single parent. The Club was initially our caregiver, but it quickly became so much more.”
Indeed, Melissa’s own memories not only capture the long-standing traditions of the Club, but also influence how she shapes the future for our kids. Among her favorite memories was becoming a member of the Club’s Drama program in which the kids would put on two to three plays a year for the membership and families. She notes that the rehearsals and performances helped her overcome her shyness and “come out of her shell.” It’s not surprising that our Club offers a variety of performing arts opportunities today! Melissa also served as the President of the Torch and Keystone Clubs in her day, which she credits for helping her to develop strong leadership skills and commitment to community service.
All these years later, Melissa has come full circle: serving kids just like her, in the very same community, at the very same Club. She adds, “I always say that there is “magic” that happens at our Club. What a better way to pay it forward and make a living at the same time than by helping to perpetuate that magic? It is an honor to be back at the organization that I started my career at 20 years ago.”