CSA Finalist: Melody Gately

"Nobody else is like you and nobody has the gifts that you have, either."

Melody Gately uses her "Music and dance" program and her own life experiences to lead Bryant Boys and Girls Club members to be all that they can be.

"To me that's just teaching them something that's going to help encourage them to keep going."

"There's a lot of kids here that just need somebody to encourage them and to give them a positive place. I mean the Boys' and Girls' Club is an awesome place that kids can be at. I just bring a little extra to it."

Five years ago, Melody began driving directly from her day job in Little Rock to the club, where she was ready when the kids began arriving from school.

"To teach them to be kind and honest and trustworthy and loyal to their friends...it's just character-building."

"She has a way of making kids feel at ease so a lot of times kids just need a "momma" figure per se, they can talk to her about anything. She keeps, you know, everything in confidence, says Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Susanne Passmore.

Melody's intimate eight-week course for third through fifth grade girls has a two-year waiting list.

"I'm different. If I ever get to work at a day care like this I would like to have a music room and do "Go-Girl-Go" and stuff like that, too, because it's really fun, " added Jacie Lemons who is a "Go-Girl-Go" class member.

Melody's other programs at the club are "Make a Difference Monday", "Give Christmas Away", and Vacation Bible School.

"She's building these kids up with self-esteem and knowing that they're important, that they're somebody, more dancing kids & Melody that they're beyond just a child,

they are valuable human beings, " says Lauren Brewer, who volunteers with Melody.

"There are a lot of kids here that aren't getting that support at home. They don't have somebody encouraging them to tell them."

"Being a volunteer can be as simple as just sitting and listening and being somebody they can talk to and not be judged."

Melody frequently uses her own funds to provide special treats for the kids. And as a footnote, Executive Director Passmore recently hired Melody part-time to further implement her very special programs.

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