Timothy Meyers, an eight-year volunteer mentor at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL), was honored on Jan. 15 with the 2014 Paul Cronin Award. The recognition took place at the club’s annual dinner honoring mentors and their youth protégés.
The award, named for the late U.S. Congressman Paul Cronin, is presented annually to a BGCL volunteer who goes above and beyond in using education as a tool for kids to fulfill their potential.
“I feel honored and blessed to be involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence,” Meyers said. “I don’t do this for the recognition, but I appreciate the award because I respect the organization so much.”
“We’re very appreciative to Tim for his longtime dedication to changing kids’ lives,” said Markus Fischer, executive director of the BGCL. “His involvement with our Mentoring Works program has been a model of success, while providing a deep sense of satisfaction to him and the kids he has mentored.”
The event’s keynote speaker was club alum Radhames Nova, who credits mentors like BGCL Associate Director Steve Kelley with keeping him on the path to success during his youth. Born in the Dominican Republic, Nova attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence on a scholarship and later returned to the organization, raising $8 million in a capital campaign as its first director of development. Nova served with the Peace Corps in South Africa before working in the financial services industry, and is now executive director at the Boston chapter of ALPFA, the country’s largest Latino professional association.
Meyers has been a juvenile probation officer in Lawrence for nearly 17 years, and previously worked for 13 years at the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services as a casework supervisor, detention coordinator, caseworker on the specialized case management team, and head aftercare caseworker. He initially volunteered at BGCL by overseeing the weight room, and soon was asked to work one-on-one as a mentor. One of his protégés is 2012 Youth of the Year Fortune Kalala, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who lived in refugee camps in Africa before moving to Lawrence in the seventh grade. Kalala graduated with honors from Central Catholic High School, where he was captain of the varsity football, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. He is currently studying pre-med at Stonehill College, with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
Meyers said he was proud to mentor Kalala, whom he calls “an amazing young man.” In the BGCL Mentoring Works program, mentors are paired with protégés before they enter the ninth grade. Meyers said that he and Kalala shared weekly phone support sessions and met for meals a few times a month, discussing everything from tests to sports. Meyers attended Kalala’s football games and track meets, and often invited him to his home where Kalala is still considered an honorary member of the family.
“You feel great interacting with someone so positive, so motivated, and that goes for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence as well,” Meyers said. “It’s a cliché, but as a volunteer, you really do get a lot more back than you actually give. It’s such a great experience seeing kids who are working hard get ahead.”
About the Boys & Girls Club of LawrenceThe Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence provides a safe, after-school haven for more than 3,400 youth (ages 7 to 18) to come for hot meals, homework help, fitness and nutrition programs, college and career planning, and lasting personal relationships. The club offers critical programs that focus on academic success, healthy lifestyles, and community involvement at two locations: the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence at 136 Water St., and the Beacon Boys & Girls Club at 71 Duckett Ave. For more information, visit www.lawrencebgc.com.