MIAMI— Melissa Moore, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County, will be resigning on Thursday after providing for countless children over the past 17 years.
Moore has served as executive director for the last 12 years and has accepted a job with the City of Miami. She will begin her new position as deputy city clerk on Dec. 27 and her last day at the club will be on Thursday.
“I think that I’ve done what I wanted to do, obviously not everything because that’s part of being at a job you love, there is always work to be done,” Moore said. “I have reached the point where I can say it’s time for someone new to come in to get the club where it needs to be at the next level. I’ve been lucky to have spent the last 12 years doing that, and someone else should have a turn.”
Moore’s journey began at the club back in 1999 where she started out as program staff. By the end of her first summer with the organization, Moore was asked to stay with the club permanently by one of the unit directors. She then worked her way up to become the executive director in 2004.
Her main goals were to increase the number of children and branch out into other areas of the county where funding allowed. She said grants had changed significantly since 2004.
“When I first started, grants were operational expenses you could utilize,” Moore said. “Nowadays, it’s evidence-based programming. Now, everything is becoming data driven, which is great, but it just means you need more grants and more money to do the same things.
“It’s good we’re starting to show why the need is there and what we could accomplish because it’s not as easy now to say I want to provide an after school program. That’s great, but what are your goals? Are you going to raise their reading levels or are you targeting the homework completion rate? It’s good because our money is being used wisely and we’re being held accountable for how we are spending taxpayer’s dollars, which is important.”
Throughout her time at the club, Moore said she saw over a thousand children. The local chapter serves approximately 300 youth.
“I’ve been here with the organization for 17 years, so we’ve served well over 1,000 kids since I’ve been here,” Moore said. “We increased our numbers because we have a good staff, a good board, and AmeriCorps Vista volunteers.
"Gary Jones was here for three years and helped get the club moving forward. He played an integral part in establishing our first major fundraiser in a long time. He got the benefit concert off the ground, and hopefully the club will continue that moving forward. Mariah Olsen and Amber Aikwij were also very important to the club. The club wouldn’t be where it is today without them.”
Moore also thanked the help and support from the community for the club’s success.
“This community has been very important to the club and very helpful in allowing us to accomplish our goals,” Moore said. “We had a youth mentoring program for several years where we had volunteers from the community come in and spend one hour a week with the child. It was a fabulous program.
"Unfortunately, funding went away at the federal level, so we weren’t able to keep that program going, but that got a lot of community support," she added. "Several businessmen and women came in and volunteered their time with kids, and that changed lives.”
Moore’s main goal was to have the children moved into their future location, the Armory Building in Riverview Park, but the move-in date was pushed back. The City of Miami agreed to lease the building to the Boys & Girls Club in 2013 for free and to cover the utility costs.
“I was hoping we would be in our new facility, but it looks like it won’t be until May,” Moore said. “We still have a little ways to go. The main thing is we need volunteers for painting and of course, it’s winter time.”
Even after she leaves, Moore said she would continue to stay in touch with the club. She has developed a timeline for the new director to help keep the club moving forward without going backward. Moore also said she is leaving a letter discussing what she would have loved to accomplished if she had more time.
“The club will also be contacting me if they have any questions about anything going forward because I do want the club to succeed,” Moore said. “If they choose to carry out those goals or even come up with their own ideas, the most important thing is that the club continues to grow, receive more money and serve more kids.”
Her son, Tyler, will become a club member once he is of age and already considers himself part of the organization. Moore said the most difficult thing about leaving is the children.
“I love watching them grow up and make their own life choices,” Moore said. “It’s great to see them start their own families and careers and know that we were just a small part of their life.”
Moore’s last day will be on the day of the club’s annual Christmas Program, which she said is perfect because she will enjoy watching the children open their presents.
“I want to thank all of the community- the board, the staff, the kids, the parents, everyone, for all of the support they have given the club during my tenure here,” Moore said.
Matthew Morrison, Boys & Girls Club program director, said that Moore was his first boss and she will be greatly missed.
“It’s been a really good experience working with Melissa,” Morrison said. “She’s really organized and cares a lot about the kids. Ever since I’ve known her, she’s always been working on grants and trying to get as much money for the club. She really worked hard for the kids and has dedicated her life to this place.”
Boys & Girls Club board Vice president Adonna Helmig served as the previous executive director and has watched Moore grow throughout the years. She said the board is currently looking for potential candidates for the job, but they will have big shoes to fill.
“Melissa has moved up from all levels and is amazing because she set that as a goal when she was first employed,” Helmig said. “She realized she wanted to stay with the club and make it a career for herself. She had a lot of foresight and a vision she developed and completed. I think this new job is just another way Melissa can grow and become a more experienced person. We wish her the best of luck, and she has certainly grown as a person and an employee.”