LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Driving through the Newburg community of Louisville is a trip down memory lane for Daryle Unseld.
“Wow, I haven’t been back here in years,” Unseld says.
The neighborhood is where he grew up as a child and some of his favorite memories were made at the Boys and Girls Club.
“In my mind, it was our country club in the neighborhood,” says Unseld.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana serve 1,200 children after school.
A majority of these children are minorities.
For the first time in chapter history, the clubs are led by someone who looks like them.
Years after being a member of the Newburg club and working at another as a teenage staff member, Unseld, an Air Force veteran, returned to the Newburg Boys and Girls Club to lead clubs in Kentuckiana as a President and CEO.
“Great futures start here and mine started here, and I’m thrilled to have come full circle,” says Unseld.
Unseld is the club’s first black president.
“Representation is vitally important in roles like this. In particular, I think it’s important for young people to see people who look like them and invent some of the similar circumstances they encounter to succeed in life,” says Unseld.
Unseld says the Boys and Girls Club was the first institution to invest in him when he was a child.
Decades later, club member Camden Warren experiences a similar sentiment.
“I used to be a troublemaker back then, but now I’ve become more respectful of others around me and respectful of myself. Before, I really had no self-confidence. and now I really do, said Warren.
Camden joined the club four years ago.
During the pandemic, he lost his sister to gun violence and struggled with online learning.
“I’ve had so many things in my life, too. I got so down from it that I even almost tried to kill myself,” Warren says.
He says during those dark times the staff and friends at the club were his light.
“They are really wise people. They want me to be more than just a kid from Louisville,” Warren said. “I am healthier with my mental health. I’m still working on it, but it’s progressing. »
As he learns to manage his feelings, he serves as an ambassador for mental health, helping other students do the same.
“We think if we can do something about it, we can really start to change a lot of things and save more lives,” Warren says.
He says joining the club has saved his life in many ways
“I would probably be on the streets hanging out with people I shouldn’t be with. I could end up with some really serious stuff. I could be caught in the drug trade. Something like that could ruin my whole reputation,” Warren says.
As president, Unseld hopes to open more clubs to reach more children and ensure the cycle never ends.
“I was him one day because maybe I can come back gives me the opportunity to tell my story and I can serve as a living, breathing, walking example of what investment in the club’s mission pays off for the community. community,” says Unseld.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana has 6 club sites.
Unseld says a new club is in the works, but details on its location have not been released.