After seeing how much her husband, Jon, enjoyed being a tutor, Kim Glesmann also began volunteering in the education center at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL) four years ago.
In honor of her ongoing dedication, Glesmann was recently presented with the club's Jeannie Melucci Award. Named for the late BGCL staff member whose tough love inspired countless children to extraordinary achievement, the Jeannie Melucci Award is presented annually to a volunteer who goes above and beyond in service to the kids and club.
"Kim is a very deserving recipient of this honor," said BGCL Executive Director Markus Fischer. "By inspiring students to set goals and work hard to achieve them, she embodies our mission of changing kids' lives."
Glesmann, a special education assistant who retired in September, volunteers at the club three days a week. She said she was "shocked" when she learned she would be this year's award recipient.
"I feel very honored," she said, "but coming here, and feeling like I'm helping the kids, is rewarding enough."
Glesmann, whose great-grandfather, Dolph Retelle, grew up in South Lawrence and played baseball on the club site when it was a vacant lot, said she and the students enjoy lots of laughs despite the serious nature of the tutoring sessions. Whereas her husband specializes in math and helping high school-aged students with the college application and selection process, Glesmann has an affinity for students for whom English is a second language, or whose frustration causes them to avoid doing homework.
"I tell them you don't have to be Einstein to learn calculus. At the other end of the spectrum, I work with a girl who has a great head for math, but who worries she won't be popular if she's smart," said Glesmann, who reassures her: "It's smart to be smart."
"Some kids have been through a lot and developed a hard shell, and it's so nice when they realize they can be themselves when working with you," she added. "You form bonds and get attached, and they ask where you were if you miss a day. It's really nice."
Glesmann stays in touch with many alumni and visits when she and Jon lead college tours. On a recent trip to Fitchburg State University, for example, she treated some former club kids to homemade chocolate chip cookies.
"It's important for our club kids to see alumni doing well, so they know they can succeed in college, too. It's also exciting for me to see our college students so happy and confident," Glesmann said. "At those moments, you feel so proud. You just want them to be the best they can be."
86% of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence’s income comes through donations from individuals, corporations, organiztions, foundations and special events.