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April is National Volunteer Month: Megan McCoy Turns Volunteerism into Vocation at BGCL

April 02, 2018

When Megan McCoy began volunteering as a mentor at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence in 2011, she hoped to connect with a child for whom she could provide homework help and other support. Instead, the experience has led to a part-time staff position as assistant dance instructor through which the Bradford resident serves as a role model to dozens of boys and girls.

McCoy learned about the club while attending Central Catholic High School, whose Marist Mentor program was started by students to serve the children of Lawrence. In September 2011, McCoy was paired with an 8-year-old boy whom she tutored before they played games during her weekly visits.

McCoy, who has been dancing since she was 3 years old, says her curiosity about other club offerings soon led to the dance room. She began volunteering a second day each week to teach tap dancing, and was hired as a part-time staff member the following spring.

McCoy currently teaches hip hop, lyrical and other dance styles on Tuesdays in her official staff capacity, but volunteers an additional two or three afternoons because she enjoys coaching the youth members so much. She will be teaching dance full-time this summer.

"I can't tear myself away from the students or the club because of our mutual love for the dance program," said McCoy, who prepares the dancers for performances at club events, parades, festivals, nursing homes, and special events such as a Lowell Spinners home game last summer. McCoy also trained and accompanied a student to an audition for America's Got Talent in New York City.

"The relationships I've developed with the kids are so special to me," she added. "I love seeing them grow as dancers, just as I did at their age."

McCoy will earn a bachelor's degree in human development and a minor in education next month from Merrimack College, where she is head of the dance club (which she founded), a wellness peer educator, an orientation leader, and a Zumba instructor. The day after her graduation, she will begin an accelerated master's program at Merrimack through which she will also take on the role as community outreach fellow for the college's Rogers Center for the Arts.

Wherever her career takes her, McCoy intends for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence to remain an integral part.

"I suppose I could teach dance anyplace, but the kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence have become part of my life. Even though I'm technically the teacher, I feel like I've grown up here and learned so much from them," she says. "No matter what happens during the day, we all find a little fun and happiness when we let go and just dance."

According to Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Bryant, McCoy and her fellow volunteers add critical components to the club's emphasis on healthy lifestyles, academic successs, and character and leadership skills. In fact, she noted there are as many volunteer opportunities as there are needs to be met.

"People shouldn't underestimate their contribution, whatever they have to share," Bryant said. "Giving your time and attention to children is such an important way to help your community. And it's fun."

To learn about volunteer opportunities at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, contact Bryant at 978-683-2747, ext. 117 or sbryant@lawrencebgc.com. For more information, visit www.lawrencebgc.com.

 

Did You Know?

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Alumni Association seeks to offer mentoring, financial and volunteer support to the Club.