New club di­rec­tor hired

Philip­pi­des takes helm at Olivet Boys & Girls Club Rick­etts Cen­ter

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Mon­ica Sager msager@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

POTTSTOWN » Ni­cholas Philip­pi­des was re­cently ap­pointed as the new club di­rec­tor of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club Rick­etts Cen­ter.

“I thought I could make a huge pos­i­tive im­pact in this com­mu­nity,” Philip­pi­des said. “My im­pres­sion was that while it was do­ing some cool things, it wasn’t reach­ing enough kids and wasn’t reach­ing out enough into the com­mu­nity.”

Philip­pi­des joins the Pottstown Olivet Boys & Girls Club, 640 Beech St., af­ter work­ing on the Olivet’s spe­cial­ized pro­grams for ad­ju­di­cated youth in Read­ing.

But his time with the Boys and Girls Club started way be-

fore that.

“I vol­un­teered at one in Read­ing while I was in high school,” Philip­pi­des said.

Philip­pi­des, who is from Read­ing, took part in a for­mal teach­ing pro­gram in Columbia to teach English as a sec­ond lan­guage.

“I re­ally fell in love with teach­ing there, ”Philip­pi­des said. “Upon re­turn­ing I wanted to con­tinue teach­ing in some ca­pac­ity … I wanted to find some­thing teach­ing re­lated and kid re­lated.”

Philip­pi­des said he wants to start his im­pact as club di­rec­tor by reach­ing more kids.

“The end of last school year, we were reach­ing an aver­age for at­ten­dance some­where in the high 40s, low 50s. Our goal is for the com­ing school year to get that closer to 100,” Philip­pi­des said. “Now our sum­mer camp en­roll­ment of this year has al­ready dou­bled that of last year. So we’re re­ally happy with that, and we think that even has room for im­prove­ment.”

He said he ex­pects an “even big­ger turnout” next sum­mer.

Philip­pi­des is adding pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties to bring in these kids, too.

“As far as reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity, we are con­nect­ing with pro­grams and dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions that we ei­ther lost con­nec­tion with or never had a con­nec­tion with be­fore,” Philip­pi­des said. “A ma­jor of those, I’m try­ing to make Pottstown or­ga­ni­za­tions. We want this to be a place by, for, and of Pottstown.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs pro­vide a “safe en­vi­ron­ment with pro­grams that en­cour­age char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, life skills, and ex­po­sure to arts and cul­ture,” ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease.

“I love the arts. I do art in my free time, ”Philip­pi­des said.

Philip­pi­des, who has a bach­e­lor’s of arts de­gree in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies from Emory Univer­sity, men­tioned many art-re­lated or­ga­ni­za­tions that have, or will, team up with Olivet.

Steel River Play­house comes dur­ing the school year to run a theater pro­gram.

“The kids ab­so­lutely adored it,” Philip­pi­des said. “We have ev­ery in­ten­tion of con­tin­u­ing that.”

Other or­ga­ni­za­tions that Olivet joins, such as Pottstown Com­mu­nity Arts, Con­nec­tions on High, Se­niors and Sprouts, and Schuylkill River Ex­plor­ers.

The Philadel­phia School of Karate runs a pro­gram as well, which seemed to be a fa­vorite of the last few kids Philip­pi­des was watch­ing over at the end of the day last Tues­day. It was met by ‘Karate, yes’ and ‘I’m the best at it.’

“These are all peo­ple that we want to con­tinue to col­lab­o­rate with and ex­pand our re­la­tion­ship with,” said Philip­pi­des, who wants to add the com­mu­nity into his pro­grams. “We’re go­ing to be do­ing awe­some things here.”

Philip­pi­des also said the man who runs the sum­mer bas­ket­ball league out­side of Olivet Boys & Girls Club also has started a Mold­ing Men pro­gram for teenage boys, which will start back up in the fall.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is also “feel­ing out” a fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy pro­gram for the kids run by a lo­cal vol­un­teer fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor. Philip­pi­des said this is some­thing the club is try­ing to “for­mulize” go­ing into the school year.

“In ad­di­tion to those Pottstown-based or­ga­ni­za­tions, we’re go­ing to be im­ple­ment­ing more Boys & Girls Clubs of Amer­ica pro­grams this com­ing year,” Philip­pi­des said.

Pass­port to Man­hood, a char­ac­ter and lead­er­ship pro­gram, will serve as a younger-ver­sion of the Mold­ing Men pro­gram.

Philip­pi­des also men­tioned com­mu­nity ser­vice pro­grams called the Torch Club and the Key­stone Club, which will both give kids ex­pe­ri­ence with fundrais­ing, clean-ups, and “stuff out in the com­mu­nity” and in the club.

The Olivet Boys & Girls Club will con­tinue its girl scout, ju­nior chef, and STEM pro­grams, too, ac­cord­ing to Philip­pi­des.

“I’m still learn­ing,” Philip­pi­des said. “It has been a lot of fun so far. There’s cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties with the kids that they’re just so ex­cited about … We had a wa­ter bal­loon fight to­day and just see­ing kids get re­ally ex­cited about do­ing that, or, in the more aca­demic stuff, see­ing a kid who never played chess be­fore find­ing that he or she is re­ally in­ter­ested in chess. That is re­ally, re­ally re­ward­ing for me.”

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