Labor of Love

jimkids4mp

By Matt Larson

Jim Hammack, board member for a local Boys & Girls Club, has just earned a seat on their national council.

You may be plenty familiar with the Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante by now, but we’d like to take it a step further to introduce you to Jim Hammack, a past president of the club and one of their current board members who was just recently appointed to be one of 15 representatives to sit on the National Area Council Committee (NACC) for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

He’s been in a similar position before as chair of the Northern California Area Council for BGCA, representing the voice of 45 clubs from Fresno to Tahoe to Chico and back, but the NACC serves as a conduit between 54 area councils representing more than 4,100 clubs that impact nearly 4 million children and teens. Hammack first got involved with the BGC of El Sobrante in April 2008 when he was working for Charles Schwab. “They have a nationwide partnership with BGCA to teach a financial literacy program called Money Matters, so I taught that class to some of the kids,” he said. The class included talking about things like how to read your paycheck, checking accounts, credit cards, stocks, and he even took them to an actual bank vault.

“Part of the BGCA goal is to give kids an experience that they’re not normally going to see, to show them the possibilities of what’s out there,” he said. Something about that experience stuck, as he is still heavily involved with the club 8 years later.

Now the Founder and CEO of Nerd Crossing, an IT and web company with offices in El Sobrante and Walnut Creek, he still manages to give his all to the Boys & GirlsClubs. “We’re getting much more out of it than we put into it,” said Hammack, whose wife, Lisa, is also a fellow board member. “Whenever we walk through the doors of the Club and see those smiling faces, it gives us great joy and happiness, and makes us realize we’re part ofsomething bigger.” Hammack tells us that there’s currently about 11 million kids across the country who are left unsupervised during after school hours. “They need a place to go,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re at risk for getting into trouble. So that’s what we hope to do, provide that safe positive place for kids.” He refers to the Great Futures 2025 plan, a nationwide strategy that plans to double the amount of kids served by Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, by the year 2025. Part of his input on the NACC will be pushing to bring Boys & Girls Club services to the students, instead of making them have to find transport tothe clubs. In addition, Hammock is also a part of a task force to explore the possibility of unitying the El Sobrante and Martinez clubs into one county-wide organtization. It is likely the merger will occur sometime this month.

“A lot of our growth has been from bringing services to kids,” Hammack explains. “The most likely partnership is with the school districts. We also have programs that are at military bases, at housing projects, on Native American reservations … we’re serving 4 million but there’s still 11 million that are unsupervised, so we need to make a bigger dent in that number and bring these programs to kids.”

The three tenants of BGCA, that are applied to every one of their kids, are: Academic Success, Character and Leadership, and Healthy Lifestyles. “These are issues that are effecting kids everywhere,” says Hammack. “There are kids across all spectrums that are suffering from these same challenges. BGCA is the premier youth organization that is really focused on addressing these issues.”

If you’d like to get involved, with or without a child of your own, Hammack highly recommends it. “I’ve lived in this area for about 16 years,” he said. “It wasn’t until 2008 that I really got to know my neighbors and my community.” If you have the time, volunteers are always welcome at the BGC of El Sobrante. From tutoring to leading cooking classes to helping in the computer lab to refereeing basketball games, even serving on a committee and helping with fundraising events, there is plenty of fulfilling work to be done. So follow in Hammack’s footsteps and support your local Boys & Girls Club. For El Sobrante visit http://www.bgcelsobrante.org, for everywhere else head to http://www.bgca.org.

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