New club director hired
Philippides takes helm at Olivet Boys & Girls Club Ricketts Center
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-
“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.”