In honor of Women’s History Month this March, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield are celebrating by sharing powerful stories of the women of BGC in its “Women who Inspire” Spotlight. The 2022 editorial celebrates women who work with youth at the clubs today and serve as an example for them to model in the future. These women energize the BGC community with their compassion towards the young people who attend the clubs and their steadfast support of the club’s mission to do whatever it takes to make a difference in the life of a child. Read along for Part 2 of the series with their stories, and find out why we are so inspired by these women each and everyday.
Sarah Burnett – Wakefield Group Leader
Tell us a little about yourself..
I grew up here in Massachusetts but not in Wakefield. I currently have a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business and Industry but am working to obtain another Bachelor’s at Salem StateUniversity for Sports and Movement Sciences.
What attracted you to work at the BGC?
I started working at BGC in 2019 because I received an opportunity to provide a variety of dance programs to the kids. I enjoy dancing, I participated in this sport starting at the age of 4 and didn’t stop until I graduated from college in 2016. I always found dance to be one of my biggest outlets, so I was very excited to be able to bring this to the kids at BGC.
What do you love most about your job at BGC?
I love being able to provide different opportunities to the kids at BGC that they may not be able to get anywhere else. To see the variety of activities we plan for them and how much they enjoy them is truly amazing to see every day.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that young girls face today?
I think that the biggest challenge today for young girls is what we see on social media and the internet. I think that the Internet has absolutely changed certain aspects of life and it’s caused a huge challenge in how young girls view the world today.
Who was the biggest influence in your life growing up, and what did they teach you?
I would say my parents are the biggest influences in my life. They both taught me to work hard and to never give up on what it is I am pursuing. They’ve always supported me 100% and we’ve always been able to have an open dialogue with each other and that’s also taught me to speak up for myself and focus on the positives in life.
Who is a woman (famous or other) you admire and why?
A woman that I guess I would say is another influence in my life is my childhood babysitter. She taught me a lot of the same lessons that my parents did as well as many others, like I have a feeling she played some part of why I apparently am always smiling (which a lot of people tell me that I am always smiling/positive). I always felt like she was more like a big sister to me than a babysitter, and yes, we still talk to this day.
What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today?
Focus on yourself and the goals that you want to achieve in your lifetime, and to explore and see what this big world has to offer. There are so many different opportunities that don’t feel like you have to stick to just one thing.
Jess Viens, Athletic Director
Tell us a little about yourself…..
I grew up in Southern New Hampshire playing any game or sport available! I went to University of New Hampshire where I studied Recreation Management & Policy with a special concentration in therapeutic recreation and adaptive sport. I spent many years in various sports and recreation roles and programs for children & adults of all abilities, some of my favorites include Winter Adventure Camp, Coaching any sport-but mainly softball, floor hockey, and basketball, are my favorites! You can catch me doing non-traditional sports as well such as hiking, cycling, disc golf, etc. I’m pretty game to try any activity!
What attracted you to work at the BGC?-
I’m a big kid at heart, so the opportunity to come join the BGC team to bring new, fun, inclusive programming and share the benefits of athletics programming with the club & community.
What do you love most about your job at BGC? –
I love that I get to bring the fun of athletics and sport to the club. The best part about my job is seeing kids improve their skills, play, make friends, and have fun!
What do you think is the biggest challenge that young girls face today?-
I think the biggest challenge for young girls in athletics is lack of access or available sports/athletics programming especially as girls get older and sports become more segregated based on gender.
Who is a woman (famous or other) you admire and why? –
There are a number of women who stick out in my mind that paved the way in sport that I admire, one in particular:
Simone Biles: This past Winter Olympics she showed the definition of a leadership in every sense of the word. On top of being the best and world renowned at her sport, she demonstrated that she was the ultimate team player by taking a step back- knowing she was not able to compete safely and trusting in her team to bring fierce competition and go for gold. The mental toughness to stand on the sideline, whole heartedly cheering on her teammates wanting to compete but demonstrating the self discipline to put team and safety over personal ego and athletic goals/dreams is something remarkable, admirable, and not seen a lot in the world of competitive sport.
What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today?-
Don’t be afraid to be your true self!
Amanda Haley, Director of Curriculum and Enrichment
Tell us a little about yourself ? – I grew up in a seaside town loving the ocean. I graduated from Salem State (College back then) with a degree in Middle School Education and have worked in the Youth Development field for over 20 years.
What attracted you to work at the BGC?- BGC has such a wonderful focus on the youth and an understanding that the community is so connected to the individuals.
What do you love most about your job at BGC? – I love interacting with our members and leading them to discover and explore things around them whether it be a fun project at the club, or trying a new experience outside their comfort zone.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that young girls face today?- One of the biggest challenges I feel young girls face today is each other. Sometimes we are quick to put someone down to feel ourselves uplifted but when we take the time to lift ourselves up, we can all reach the same level.
Who was the biggest influence in your life growing up, and what did they teach you? – I worked with two amazing twins for several years as co-counselors at a previous summer camp and they taught me so much about having passion and empathy with everyone you come in contact with.
What word(s) of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today? – Listen to and guide your self-talk. Train yourself to follow the golden rule. “Treat you as you want to be treated”.