We seem to be continuously reminded of hate and injustice permeating our world these days, but then there are those fighting to make our world a better place.
Locally, Billy Mann is one of those fighters. At 30, Mann is the Director of Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo, and his optimism and warm heart make the world seem less bleak.
In the family
The Mann family has a long and dedicated history with the Boys & Girls Club. Mann’s great-grandfather was a Boys Club member in the 1920s and 30s, so his grandfather supported the club, as did his father.
Mann remembers helping out with the Club as a child. “I remember, as a kid, passing out goodies and volunteering. In the mid-90s, my father joined the board, and as he got more engaged with the club, I tagged along and helped where I could.”
Mann continued to volunteer with The Boys & Girls Club throughout high school. When he attended college at Loyola University in Chicago, he worked with the Chicago Union League Boys & Girls Club, and when he returned to Toledo for summers, he interned at the local chapter. In 2010, Mann returned to Toledo and began working part-time as the development coordinator. About 3 years ago, he was promoted to Director of Development.
Mann illustrates the importance of the Boys & Girls Club, saying, “Our goal is to develop a well-rounded individual….When they’re young, we want them to achieve academic success: good grades, going to school regularly. We also emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle, so we have all kinds of programs centered around healthy eating and exercise.”
“This is a safe place with adults who care. It’s not just about playing pool and doing their homework. It’s about the person asking them how their day was and making sure they’re fed.”
“When our kids turn 18,” Mann continues, “we want them to have a plan–trade school, employment, college, military. We want them to be responsible citizens in the community. It is the mission of our club across the country to serve ALL children,” Mann adds proudly.
The only requirement for joining is that students must be pursuing their education. “We want them to be in school. They MUST be in school,” emphasizes Mann.
The cost to the Boys & Girls Club is $360 per kid per year, despite only charging members $3/year. That is where Mann’s important work comes in: “My job is to ensure that we have the funding to cover the programs and that we raise enough money to maintain our incredible staff.”
“I’m serving a cause, and this cause is people,” Mann continues. “I’m raising money for children — our future.”
Q&A with Billy Mann
What’s your favorite activity to do around the holidays? Being a part of Boys & Girls Clubs and Kiwanis Club of Toledo’s Christmas Parties. Just seeing smiles we can bring to kid’s faces, and their appreciation of our simple gifts gives me great satisfaction.
Best holiday memory you have from when you were a kid?
(Erin, this is so tough!). I would have to say celebrating Christmas Eve, singing carols and having Santa visit our family each year. What’s your go-to activity when you finally have a few minutes to yourself? Sitting outside in our garden to read or take in the view. Describe your life in five words. Energetic, Fulfilling, Thankful, Fun, Engaging.
Want to get involved? Lend a hand and volunteer as a tutor, mentor, coach or more. Boys & Girls Club of Toledo 2250 N. Detroit Ave 419-241-4258 | bgctoledo.org