Five area teens spent the summer working at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland in a Bank of America internship program aimed at giving them first-hand about the needs of the community and the critical role nonprofits play.
They were among the more than 200 teens across the U.S. in BOA’s Student Leaders program. The interns working at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland were Trent Swain, a rising senior at Cleveland Heights High School; Jonathan Botek of Chester Township, a rising senior at Gilmour Academy; Yehowseph “Seph” Brown, a recent graduate of Brush High School; Abby Christel, a recent graduate of Bay Village High School; and Kathleen White, a rising senior at Shaker Heights High School. The eight-week program included a week-long Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., where they learned how government, business and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs.
“The students did a great job immersing themselves into our important work, and we are grateful to Bank of America for making this program possible,” said BGCC President and CEO Ron Soeder.
Every day, each intern was assigned to shadow different roles within the Boys & Girls Club, ranging from Club directors to the president of BGCC. Kathleen White, a rising senior at Shaker Heights High School, said when she first got the call that she would be working at the Boys & Girls Club for the summer she didn’t know what to expect because she had never heard of the Club.
“I thought we would (only) be working with kids like as a counselor. I’m glad we get to work in the administrative part (of the organization),” White said.
When asked what was the most interesting part of his internship experience, Brown, who will attend The Ohio State University in the fall, said it was having the opportunity to do something different every day. “Having the opportunity to shadow someone different daily gives me different perspectives of how a nonprofit is run,” said Brown.
Since many of the Clubs are located in some of Cleveland’s roughest neighborhoods in Cleveland, this internship experience was a culture shock for some.
Botek said his experience at the Club has brought a realization of poverty in his own back yard. Botek explained that his internship experience has allowed him to be in touch with a whole new group of people he was never aware of – lower-income African-American and Hispanic families. “This experience has allowed me to communicate better with people from different backgrounds,” Botek said.
Abby Christel, a Bay High School graduate and freshman at The Ohio State University, also said that her experience at the Club as changed her perspective. “This internship has really broadened my perspective of people who come from different backgrounds and allowed me to be more open-minded and empathic to others’ upbringing,” Christel said.
Swain agreed that the experience has given him a more balanced view of life in the inner city while helping him develop leadership skills. “This opportunity has taught me how to carry myself in a professional setting,” he said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland is a for-impact organization serving more than 8,000 kids per year at fifteen locations in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Cleveland Height and Garfield Heights. The Clubs provide safe, fun places for kids afterschool, on Saturdays and in the summer, focusing on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character development.
Pictured in Photo: From left to right, Jonathan Botek, Abby Christel, Trent Swain, Kathleen White and Seph Brown.