Jeanie Miller has always loved kids.
The only problem was that in her position with the United Way in Modesto she was always too far removed to actually see her efforts playing out in front of her.
With a new position as the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Manteca/Lathrop, Miller – who replaced “interim” director Charlie Halford (who spent four years in the position) – has had to come out of her office to remind club members that the door they’re banging on actually leads to a room that’s occupied.
“It’s definitely something that’s different. I knew that what I was doing at the United Way was helping, but I was removed from where that work was going,” Miller said. “I’ve always wanted to work with children, and I felt like I had the background and skills to hopefully take the Boys and Girls Club of Manteca and Lathrop to the next level.
“Charlie did such a wonderful job here at the facility and that’s something that I want to carry on.”
And she’ll definitely have her hands full.
In an economic climate where money for non-profit organizations is shrinking, competition among them for the relatively small pot is at a feverish pitch. Government grants are drying up and dollars from the organizations like the one that she used to be a part of simply aren’t where they used to be.
Donations from the business community and residents in general have been strong, she said, with the support of the business community and local residents providing a large chunk of operating expenses through donations via the annual telethon.
It’ll be her experience in securing outside funds – primarily through grants – that’ll help immensely.
“I just finished one and there are a few more that I’m working on right now,” Miller said. “There are just limited resources and the availability has decreased in the last 10 or 20 years. A lot of people will say it’s because of the economy but you have to look past that and continue to do business like you always have because everybody is having to deal with that.
“It helps to have the right team of volunteers and being able to keep those volunteers. There’s a big part of the success and you don’t ever want them to feel like they’re being taken advantage of.”
When she’s not working on mapping out a future for an organization that has provided an outlet for adolescents and teenagers in the community for more than 30 years, Miller is most likely tending to her garden, traveling or driving up to Sonoma State University to visit her 19-year-old daughter who is preparing to enter her second year of college.
She’s extremely close to her extended family most of which live in and around the Stanislaus County and Stockton area. She also loves spending time exploring new cities and regions of the country and areas overseas.
But getting to reach that child that walks through the door, said the Stockton native and Stanislaus State graduate, is currently her top priority.
“The whole premise is helping the kids that come in here and spend their time with other kids their own age,” Miller said. “It’s been proven statistically that kids who grow up participating in a Boys and Girls Club are much more successful later on in life.
“I’m honored to be a part of that.”
The Manteca Boys and Girls Club is located at 545 W. Alameda Street. The site is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information call (209) 239-5437.