The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Everybody Has a Story

July 8, 2011

Community service runs in the blood

Boys & Girls Club Teen Director Josh Slinkard invest in people around him

GREENVILLE — Instead of lounging by the pool this summer or rotting his brain with video games, Josh Slinkard is spending his summer doing all he can to help the youth of our community.

Currently, Slinkard is working at the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Texas, as well as studying at Criswell Bible College in Dallas, where he will be earning a BA in biblical studies with a double minor in student ministry and philosophy. He will be completing his studies in three semesters after first enrolling in the fall of 2008.

“It’s a small school and since I’ve been there so long I know most of the student body and professors and most of them know me,” said Slinkard. “I’m known as Jack Black around campus because people think I look like him. It’s small, but it’s home.”

Like many who decide to give back to the youth of the community, Slinkard attributes his decision to some of the youth leaders in his life who made quite an impact.

“When I was 14 I had several youth leaders who invested in my life and helped transform me from a shy home-schooled kid to a confident adult,” he said. “Since then I’ve wanted to do the same for kids who were like me, who could use a caring adult involved in their lives.”

Slinkard didn’t know a lot about the Boys & Girls Club before he began volunteering with them in the spring of 2010.

“While I was working at Chick-Fil-A I ran into a youth pastor friend of mine who was the teen center unit director at the club,” said Slinkard. “They were starting a program called Mach 1, which was a joint venture between the club and the school district to help sixth through eighth graders who were in danger of not moving on to the next level because of grades or attendance.”

For the next few months Slinkard helped these kids with their homework and helped tutor those struggling in a subject. After just a few weeks volunteering, he was hired to continue doing the job, which eventually translated to a summer position when the club’s summer program began.

“Towards the end of the summer the teen center unit director moved on to other things and I was offered the job,” said Slinkard. “I took it and started planning our school year program. During the fall and spring we helped with homework and ran club curriculum including Triple Play, which helps develop healthy habits regarding nutrition and exercise; Money Matters, which is geared towards helping youth with learning how to budget, invest and prepare for college financially; and SMART Moves, which helps prepare youth for issues they’ll face in high school and beyond including bullying, relationship issues, alcohol and drug awareness.”

Slinkard’s responsibilities as unit director include overseeing the program, making sure the various curriculu is implemented effectively and accurately, build relationships with the school district and other organizations and agencies that are geared to helping local youth.

“One of my other duties, which I take very seriously, is to tire the club members out by beating them at basketball,” said Slinkard. “I love my job. I get paid to work with kids, which is my dream. Sometimes they wear me out, but they’re all good kids and I hope to be able to help them achieve things they never dreamed they could. I love working with the other club staff, who help loosen me up when things get stressful and who are always willing to lend a hand to help me with my program. I’ve got great bosses and co-workers who have the same goals I do when it comes to helping our club members succeed in life.”

Slinkard was not new to volunteering before he began at the Boys & Girls Club, though most of the volunteering he’d done was for local churches and their youth groups. In fact, he’s volunteered and led worship at Aldersgate Church, First Baptist Church Authentic Life Fellowship, Ridgecrest Church and Grace Community Fellowship.

“I did a Disciple Now with First Baptist this year along with helping Authentic Life Fellowship with their 30-Hour Famine this year and for the past two years I’ve helped Ridgecrest during their Beaver’s Bend trip with Aldersgate,” he said. “And a few years ago I led worship for Grace’s youth group.”

This may seem like a lot of demands on Slinkard’s time, especially with going to school and working full-time, but to him, it’s just his calling.

“What draws me to help is that young kids these days face a bigger challenge than in any previous generation,” he said. “Instead of being raised by both parents and their community, they are being raised by Facebook, Youtube, and the popular media. They need adults who can give them attention, listen to their hurts and dreams, and help them to succeed in their faith, school, relationships and so on. With everything I do, whether it’s going to school to study youth ministry, working at the Boys & Girls Club or volunteering with local youth groups, I intentionally do whatever I can to assist other dedicated adults, whether they be parents, staff or volunteers, to accomplish our common dream: to leave a lasting, positive impact on this generation.”

Handling large groups of kids is what Slinkard does on a daily basis at the club, something that takes the right kind of person and demeanor.

“The trick is to identify the kids in your group who are leaders,” he said. “If you get them to buy into what you are doing, then the rest will follow. I think I’ve always been good with children, probably because I’m still a kid at heart.”

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