Meet Richard Starr, our Distribution Partner of the Year. Richard is the Club & Athletic Director at the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland King Kennedy/East Tech Teen Center. As a committed neighborhood Distribution Partner, Richard plays a critical role in our mission by ensuring families receive clothing and other basic needs to improve and enrich their lives.
We chatted with Richard to get to know a little more about his passion for Cleveland kids, why he values his partnership with SC4K, and how he started training for his current role at the age of eight.
Tell us about your role at the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.
I hold a dual role at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, serving as both the Athletics Director and managing director of both the King Kennedy Club and East Tech Teen Center. I've overseen BGCC's athletics programs for the past three years and have been a Club Director for six years. My #1 job is to make sure that kids in Cleveland grow up safe, supported, and knowing they're cared for. In practice, this means everything from hiring and managing a compassionate, talented staff, to meeting with parents, coordinating field trips and managing partnerships with organizations throughout our community.
What led you to this job?
I started training for my current roles at the age of eight when I first joined the King Kennedy Boys & Girls Club as a member. Being a Club kid and a resident of the Central Neighborhood gave me personal insight into what our Club members and families experience every day. Growing up walking the same streets and playing on the same playground as the kids I've gotten to know through work is a big part of what led me to my current role. I know the struggles that many of our Club members are dealing with, but I also know what it means for them to have a caring, joyful adult mentor in their life. My passion for mentoring young people is one of the biggest reasons I come to work every day. Seeing young people transformed by their time at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland is truly inspiring.
Why is it important for you and your organization to partner with Shoes and Clothes for Kids?
The majority of young people served by Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland live in or near poverty. The Clubs that I manage are both located in the Central Neighborhood, where more than 84% of children are living in poverty -- this is nearly 30% higher than Cleveland's overall child poverty rate. Working with Shoes & Clothes for Kids allows us to connect our young people and families with essential clothing and outerwear. Kids can come to the Club and pick out the clothes feel right them. "Shopping" for clothes at the Club gives kids the opportunity to browse, bargain, and share with each other and the donation of Payless gift cards provides families the chance to go out and get something new together. For many kids and families, the quarterly Shoes & Clothes for Kids distribution is a highlight of their year.
What’s something about the work you’re doing in Cleveland you wish more people knew about?
Last summer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland had the opportunity to partner with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity to launch Building Great Futures. A spring and summer career readiness initiative for our teenage members, Building Great Futures provided participants with training and applied experience in the construction trades. Many program participants set up their first ever bank account, received their first ever paycheck, and earned their first professional credential... And they did it all while rehabbing two homes in Cleveland's Kinsman neighborhood. I'm excited to say that the program will continue into a second year this summer.
What gives you a sense of hope?
Seeing Club kids walk through our doors every day gives me a sense of hope. This is because I know how valuable the relationship between kids and the Club is. The Club is a place where kids build relationships, learn about themselves, and discover their potential. The Club is a place where it's safe to try new things and where you're encouraged to go outside of your comfort zone. Working as a Club Director means that I get to help kids discover what it means to dream big and pursue their passion.
Tell us something interesting about you!
My original dream job was to be a lawyer. It wasn't until I held my first part-time job at the Club that I knew I wanted to work in the community.
What’s a must-see experience in Cleveland?
Club athletics events are definitely must-see experiences! Every year we coordinate basketball, football, volleyball, and baseball leagues. Our championship games are open to the public and are a great way to see a little bit of the Club in action.
We were thrilled to present the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland with a $1,500 check last month provide additional uniforms during the Back to School distribution or coats in the winter distribution. (L to R: SC4K board member Tyrone McBee, Dominion Energy; SC4K Chairman, Lamont Mackley, Jumpstart; Gloria Jones, Boys & Girls Club - King Kennedy representing Richard Starr; SC4K board member, Jeff Galla, Sherwin-Williams; SC4K executive director, Terry Uhl)