Shimer rec­og­nized for ex­em­plary ef­forts

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Hunter McFer­rin Staff Writer hm­c­fer­ ■

Chris Shimer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County, has joined an elite group after be­ing cho­sen as this year’s re­cip­i­ent of an award that is meant to rec­og­nize ex­tra­or­di­nary ser­vice to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The ac­co­lade is known as the Jim Wether­ing­ton South­west­erner Award and was pre­sented to Shimer at the end of Septem­ber as part of the an­nual Boys & Girls Club of Amer­ica South­west Re­gion Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence in Austin, Texas. Jerry Glidewell, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Smith, is a for­mer re­cip­i­ent of the award and also is the in­di­vid­ual who nom­i­nated Shimer.

Glidewell said that Shimer’s win­ning the award lands him in a rather ex­clu­sive group, con­sid­er­ing that aside from Shimer, only Glidewell and one other in­di­vid­ual from the state of Arkansas have been se­lected for the award in at least the last 30 years. Glidewell has known Shimer since 1994 when he be­gan work­ing with the Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County and he said he nom­i­nated him for the award be­cause he has be­come the cream of the crop among the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s up­per ranks in the South­west Re­gion over the years.

“He’s served on sev­eral task forces in the re­gion and state, has led ses­sions at con­fer­ences at the re­gional and na­tional lev­els and has served on the Area Coun­cil, which is a statewide net­work of Boys & Girls Clubs made up of board pres­i­dents and var­i­ous ex­ec­u­tives,” Glidewell said. “He’s just pro­vided a lot of lead­er­ship in state and re­gion and is very ded­i­cated to the Boys & Girls Club move­ment. So with his ex­pe­ri­ence and abil­i­ties I felt he was a great re­cip­i­ent for the award.”

Once nom­i­nated for the award, po­ten­tial can­di­dates are in­ter­nally voted upon by a se­lec­tion com­mit­tee made up of for­mer re­cip­i­ents of the award, said Robin Schmidt, Di­rec­tor of Or­ga­ni­za­tional De­vel­op­ment for the Boys & Girls Club of Amer­ica. The spe­cific cri­te­ria nom­i­nees for the award must meet is broad in scope, but fo­cuses on three gen­eral ar­eas, she said.

Schmidt said ap­pli­cants must

first be able to show they have demon­strated the “high­est type” of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and sec­ond, they must also be able to show that they aren’t only con­cerned with their lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion, but also with the growth and de­vel­op­ment of oth­ers in their state and re­gion. Lastly, they must be able to show they have worked in in­no­va­tive and cre­ative ways to de­velop and ac­tively work to share the best prac­tices with other clubs in a va­ri­ety of ways; this can range from meth­ods in which dif­fer­ent branches of the or­ga­ni­za­tion use to best ad­dress the needs of their com­mu­nity to the way they man­age their hu­man resources de­part­ment.

Shimer said he can only spec­u­late as to why he was specif­i­cally cho­sen, but said that the growth that has taken place dur­ing his time in western Ben­ton County was likely to be a fac­tor. Some ex­am­ples of this in­clude hav­ing served about 500 kids per year in 1999, com­pared to about 2,000 per year to­day; or about 46 kids per day back then com­pared to the 500 kids per day they’re work­ing with to­day, he said. Other in­stances of growth in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of re­la­tion­ships with en­ti­ties like the school dis­tricts of Gravette, Gen­try, De­catur and Siloam Springs, the mem­bers of each of those com­mu­ni­ties as well as non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions like the United Way.

Upon re­ceiv­ing the award, a video up­loaded to the Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County’s Face­book page shows Shimer as he gave a brief but emo­tional ad­dress to the au­di­ence. In the video, he re­counted no­table peo­ple and as­pects of his ex­pe­ri­ence while work­ing with the or­ga­ni­za­tion in ad­di­tion to ex­press­ing hu­mil­ity and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the recog­ni­tion; adding that he was “still in shock.” In a later in­ter­view, how­ever, Shimer said that while he is hon­ored to have re­ceived it and was not ex­pect­ing it to hap­pen, the award need not be at­trib­uted solely to his ef­forts and should in­stead be viewed as a re­sult of ef­forts col­lec­tively put forth by the com­mu­nity.

“It’s very hum­bling to con­sider my­self in that group, it was sur­pris­ing, it’s kind of still hard to be­lieve,” Shimer said. “It’s cer­tainly nice for me, I mean I ap­pre­ci­ate it. But, this or­ga­ni­za­tion isn’t about me. This or­ga­ni­za­tion is about what we do and it kind of is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the great peo­ple that have come to­gether in our com­mu­nity and in western Ben­ton County to al­low us to pro­vide these ser­vices.

“It’s about what hap­pens when in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and cor­po­ra­tions in our com­mu­nity come to­gether to help pro­vide our kids a bet­ter life, op­por­tu­ni­ties and hope. It’s about the fact that they have a place they can come to, feel safe, have fun and feel like their voice mat­ters; and I like to think we give them that op­por­tu­nity. This is a kind of a re­ward to be shared by all in our com­mu­nity in western Ben­ton County.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Amer­ica is sub­di­vided into five re­gions — North­east, South­east, Mid­west, Pa­cific West and South­west — and each one has their own ver­sion of this award, Schmidt said. Though not ge­o­graph­i­cally con­sis­tent, the South­west Re­gion con­sists of branches in Arkansas, Mon­tana, Wy­oming, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Ok­la­homa and New Mex­ico. The award Shimer re­ceived is named after Jim Wether­ing­ton, who was a long­time CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of North Lit­tle Rock, which, un­der his lead­er­ship re­ceived nu­mer­ous awards and ac­co­lades for an ex­cep­tional de­gree of ser­vice to his club, the state and South­west Re­gion as a whole, largely through demon­strat­ing the qual­i­ties Schmidt men­tioned above.

The Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County’s main fa­cil­ity is lo­cated at 655 Her­itage Court in Siloam Springs. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit or call 479-524-4174.

Photo submitted

After re­ceiv­ing the award, Chris Shimer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County, takes a photo with dif­fer­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tives of other Boys & Girls Clubs in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s south­west re­gion. Pic­tured (from left) are Misti Pot­ter, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Austin, Texas, area; Jon Charles, re­tired CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Cen­tral Texas; Chris Shimer — CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Ben­ton County; Car­los Martinez — di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions from the Wi­chita Falls Boys & Girls Club; Ger­ald Gathright — CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Har­lin­gen; Ash­ley Bright — CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Cen­tral Wy­oming.

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