Mino Maajisewin Home Visitor
Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” In the world that we live in, people never seem to run out of excuses to think and act in negative ways, but there are certain people who choose to be optimistic, no matter the circumstances; Charity Valentin, whom we are proud to call a Club Alumnus, is one of those people.
“I always try to look at the bright side and stay positive whatever I go through,” Charity said in an interview. “I think that’s something (I learned from the Club) that I still practice today.”
Charity has a lot to be grateful for. She is employed full-time at Mino Maajisewin as a home visitor. She works with pregnant moms and mothers with babies up to five years old, making sure the children are developing on time and referring them to specialists if they happen to be falling behind. She also attends LCO College one class per semester, pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education.
Married to her husband Joel, another Club Alumnus who now works as a police officer, the happy couple has two wonderful little boys: Aiden (2) and Gavin (almost 1). They also have a fifteen year old cousin living with them. Needless to say, life is full in the Valentin household.
“(The kids) keep us pretty busy,” Charity said with a smile, “We are always doing family friendly activities, sports, and vacations.”
Looking back on her time at the Club from where she’s at today, Charity thinks her life may have been different had it not been for her time growing up as a Boys and Girls Club kid. “I think I probably would’ve gotten into a lot more trouble (if not for the Club). I probably would’ve been hanging out with the wrong group of kids.”
When asked how the Boys and Girls Club helped her get to where she is today, she said, “I love Karen and she was and is such an inspiration to me. (The Club) is just a positive place.”
She remembers her time at the Boys and Girls Club with fondness, as do so many who come through the Club. A few memories in particular stick out to her as ones she would like to remember forever, “(I remember) waiting in our front lawn for the Big Blue Bus (The Boys and Girls Club bus) and seeing Lee (Lopitt’s) smiley face… and of course all the summer trips! Working here was really fun too, just working with all the little kids!”
The kids are still on her heart, as her vision for the Club would be to see more kids come through the program and succeed in life. Although she understands that life can be tough sometimes, her message to the current Boys and Girls Club kids is a positive one: “Don’t give up! Also keep in touch with staff even after you leave.
Loan Officer at LCO Federal Credit Union
Any good architect would tell you that the most important part of a structure is its foundation. The same is true for people. For Adrien Quaderer, the Boys and Girls Club helped lay a solid foundation for his future.
“(Boys and Girls Club) gave me a foundation as far as doing something with my life. It helped (me) develop leadership skills, and exposed me to a lot of different experiences. And it taught me responsibility and the value of hard work.” All of those are now crucial skills that Adrien relies upon on a daily basis.
Adrien works full-time at the LCO Federal Credit Union as a loan officer and is also taking online classes through Penn Foster, pursuing a degree in business and accounting. Back in the day, Adrien used to work for the Club, gaining some valuable skills with computers and people, which he still puts to good use today.
Perhaps the most valuable thing that Adrien took with him from his time at the Club was the wealth of experiences he accumulated through Keystone, a leadership development program for youth, and other programs.
“(Boys and Girls Club) offers different activities that sometimes you wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise.(Through the Club) I got to go to Chicago; Wisconsin Dells; Albuquerque, New Mexico; California; Minnesota; and Michigan. (I got to) go to different places and experience different things… it definitely gives you a broader perspective of life.”
Part of that broader perspective is an awareness of the value of being a responsible citizen and active in the community. “(The Club) helped me develop into a better, more responsible community member. You just learn so much at the Club… (like) the importance of giving back to your community.”
Another byproduct of that broadening for Adrien was a strong work ethic. “(A) key lesson I learned (at the Club) was that in life you need to work for what you want,” Adrien said.“We did fundraising for our trips, held bake sales, and sold Indian tacos and raffle tickets. If we wanted to go on the trips, we needed to go out and get the money, so it taught me the value of work.” That work ethic has continued to serve Adrien well to this day.
Adrien is grateful for his experience at the Club and is hopeful that the Club will always remain available for future generations. His charge to the current Boys and Girls Club kids: “Get involved; if there’s an opportunity go for it. Do it, because you never know how it will impact your life or shape you as person.”
Supervisor at LCO C-2 Gas Station
It’s true that the Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles has a mission – one that we take seriously – to help young men and women reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. And Marcus Carley is definitely a living example of our mission. But it’s important to also remember that the Club ought to be fun and full of life! This is something that Marcus knows intuitively.
“(One thing I learned at the Club is) to live life to the fullest,” Marcus said in an interview. “(In life) there are dead things that come up… don’t let those negative things hinder you! Just keep on living life and keeping a positive attitude!”
Today, Marcus works full-time at the LCO C-2 Gas Station, where he is a supervisor. He also attends classes on a part-time basis at LCO Community College, pursuing a degree in Business Administration. Looking back from where he’s at today, Marcus thinks his life may be different today if it hadn’t been for his time at the Boys and Girls Club. “(The Club) helped me out greatly. It helped me get to know new people, allowed me to grow up with a lot of good kids, and it kept me out of trouble… it’s tough to imagine (what my life would’ve been like without the Club).“
To be sure, he wouldn’t have all the fun memories he has today without the Club. “I would say the thing that sticks out to me the most (from my time at the Club) is (when I played for) the softball team as a teenager. Those were some of the best times I ever had here. Basketball during the winter was really great too. It was really fun!”
Marcus remembers growing up in the Club as both a fun time as well as a time of growth. “I was taught respect: respect elders, respect everybody. I was taught a lot of good values here.” Marcus says that a large part of the reason for that growth was the mentorship of former staff member Matt Crow, “(Matt) taught me team play, being a better person, making the tough decisions on what to do, what not to do. He was like a big brother.”
Having personally experienced the fun and positive things that the Club has to offer, Marcus hopes that more kids will get to have the same experiences. “I would like to see (the Club) expand, get more kids in here. The more kids we get in here, the better off the Club would be, and the better off they would be. We need to get more kids involved and getting them to meet other people.”
His advice to current Boys and Girls Club kids: “Stay active, be a team player, and respect everyone here. (The Boys and Girls Club staff) know what they’re doing, and they can help you out with your decisions, no matter where you are in life”
Early Childhood Education/US Naval Reserve
One of the many goals of Boys and Girls Club is to promote the importance of staying away from illegal drugs. But drugs can be a big temptation for teens, who are trying to find their way in this world. For Bowen, they were becoming a problem in his teenage years, but the Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles helped steer him back in the right direction. “When I was a teenager, I got into drugs and alcohol,” Bowen said in an interview, “The Boys and Girls Club provided me with an outlet for redirecting my time, energy, and attitude into positive things, and helped me to quit doing drugs. I have been drug free ever since.”
Bowen said that part of his turnaround was due to the mentorship of Matt Crow. Matt was on staff with Boys and Girls Club from 2000-2005. “(Matt) was kind of my mentor. He always gave me good advice, and he was always someone I could talk to if I had problems. He was a good coach, and a good influence.” Tragically, Matt passed away in a car accident.
Today, Bowen works full-time at Early Head Start as an Early Childhood Educator and teaches Ojibwe language and traditional Ojibwe culture. He is also married to his wife Rena, and they are raising seven kids. They have been married for six years now. A big part of what attracted Rena to Bowen before they even started dating was Bowen’s good character and drug free lifestyle. “I actually probably wouldn’t have ever started dating Rena if it wasn’t for the Club, because she was asking around about me before she started dating me to see if I would be a good person to date!”
Bowen is also a member of the US Naval Reserve, and has proudly served his country in this manner for the last five years. In many ways, this attitude of service shows up in other aspects of his life as well. Whether it’s being a great teammate for the Boys and Girls Club basketball team in the LCO Men’s League, or doing his best at work, or raising seven kids, Bowen is constantly thinking of ways he can serve others, especially youth. “(The Club) inspired me to be a positive role model for younger generations… Giving back to your community and working together to achieve a common goal (are things) I learned at the Club.”
All in all, Bowen considers the time he spent at the Club a very good investment. From canoe trips to sports to his time spent as a mentor, Bowen doesn’t think his life would be the same if it hadn’t been for the Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles. “(Without the Club) I probably wouldn’t have graduated high school. I probably would’ve dropped out and then later gotten my GED instead of my high school diploma. I most likely wouldn’t have joined the military.”
In this world in which things can get so chaotic and confusing at times, Bowen thinks it’s important to hang on tight to good things in life, like the Club. That is his message to the current Boys and Girls Club kids: “Stay on the good path. No matter how hard life gets, remember that you always have the Boys and Girls Club.”
The three major initiatives of the Boys and Girls Club movement are (1) Academic Success; (2) Healthy Lifestyles; and (3) Character. Joel Valentin is one Club Alumnus who learned a lot about character through Boys and Girls Club.
“I learned a lot about being an honest person during my time here (at the Club),” said Joel in an interview. “You carry that with you after you leave.”
Joel grew up going to Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles. From the age of 10 through 18, Joel was a regular at the Club. In fact, he had the opportunity to work for the Club when he was 14 until he was 18. Those were very formative years for young Joel.
“The Boys and Girls Club had a huge impact on me… I think coming to the Club steered me in the right direction in life and kept me from going off course. There’s no way I would be doing what I’m doing today without the positive influence of the Club.”
Today, Joel has been a police officer for nine years and was promoted in 2010 to Assistant Chief. He and his wife Charity, another Club Alumnus, have been married for four years and have two children: Aiden and Gavin.
Joel credits part of his success in life to the Club for providing a healthy, safe environment in which he could learn, grow, and develop his character when he was growing up.
“It just seemed like the perfect environment and people to work with. I think (former staff member) Matt Crow was a person I always remembered coming here and seeing him all the time. I just remember him keeping an eye on me, looking out for me making sure I wasn’t doing anything stupid that a 14 year old kid might do.”
Now, years removed from his time at The Boys and Girls Club, Joel still believes that the Club has a lot to offer the Hayward-Lac Courte Oreilles community. “It’s just a positive place for kids. You really make close friends that you’ll have for life while you’re here. I’m still friends with several people who grew up in the Club with me.” His idea of the perfect future for the Club: “To continue doing the things that they’re doing already. Just being a positive place where kids can make friends and have good role models.”
In parting, Joel offered this last piece of advice for the current Boys and Girls Club kids, “Keep going to the Boys and Girls Club. No matter how busy you get, always make time to come here, even if it’s just a couple days a week. And do your best to do something to give back to the Boys and Girls Club when you’re an adult.”
Early Childhood Education
Club alumnus Marie Wooten is an Early Childhood Educator for LCO Early Headstart. She is also taking classes at LCO College, working towards a two-year degree in human services. After she completes that program, she intends on going to UW-Superior for two more years for a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
Marie also is the proud mother of her three year-old son, Mikey. Without the Boys and Girls Club, she doesn’t think she would be as good of a mom for Mikeyas she is today. “The summers I worked as a youth staff (at Boys and Girls Club) helped me learn how to be better with kids,” Marie said in an interview, “Now I’m a better mom because of that.”
Despite the busyness that comes with work, college, and a family, Marie still believes in the importance of giving back to her community, and she tries her best to make a difference. “I would say (one lesson I learned at the Club was) staying involved in the community,” Marie said, “It keeps you busy and out of trouble. Plus, you get to meet new people! Through the Club I met a lot of friends and built some good relationships.”
A couple of those positive people were Club Staff Karen Rougeau and Heather Peterson, who led Images, a program for teenage girls, while Marie was part of the Club. “I still talk to Karen and Heather for advice.”
In light of her good experience at the Club, it is easy to see why Marie believes that the Boys and Girls Club has a lot to offer the LCO-Hayward community. “It offers lots of things,” she said.“It offers a safe environment, a place to learn and grow. And it has good opportunities and good programs.”
One thing she would like to see in the future, however, is more sport-related activities for teenage girls. “It seems like there are already some good opportunities in the community for guys to be involved with sports, like the men’s basketball league, but there should be sports leagues for girls too, like volleyball or basketball. Some girls like sports just as much as the guys! Maybe there could even be a co-ed league! I think that would be cool.”
Marie hopes that current Boys and Girls Club Kids will get to experience the same things she did, and she had this message to offer them: “Just stay involved with the Club. It has really good opportunities. So stay involved, stay busy and stay out of trouble!”
Club alumnus WonaquanceCadotte is a table games dealer at the LCO Casino, but when she’s off duty from the Casino, she’s on duty as a full-time mom. When talking with Wonaquance, it’s obvious that she loves being a mother.
“I have two sons: Deagan is six, and Gavin is five,” Wonaquance said in an interview. “They are basically total opposites of each other, but they are both perfect to me!” Deagan is a second generation Club Kid. “Deagan goes to the Club and Gavin can’t wait till he’s old enough!”
Considering all of the fun times and great friendships that she had through her time at the Club, it isn’t surprising that she is excited that both of her children are going to get to experience some of the same things. “(The Club has to offer) a lot of learning and growth for the kids,” she said.“I know my six year old loves coming here and going on the computer and he keeps telling me things that I didn’t even know he knew.”
For Wonaquance, the best memories from the Club were all the trips they used to take. “There are a lot of stories I’ll never forget. I still look through pictures from time to time. I built a lot of friendships, and I have a lot of memories and experiences… (A particularly fun memory) was going to New York City with Images. (We got to do) carriage rides and ice skating in Central Park. That was really fun!”
Reflecting back on her time at the Club, Wonaquance is glad for the relationships she developed there, and these days she wishes that she could stay in touch better with some of her friends from Images, a Club program for teenage girls.
“I definitely have some strong bonds with the girls from the Images group. The girls who were in that with me… when I see them, I still am glad to see them. After you grow up and have kids, you sort of lose touch with people, but the girls from Images are ones that you really want to stay connected to.”
Wonaquance hopes that the Club will always be available so that the younger generations will be able to benefit as much as she did from the Club. Her advice to the current Boys and Girls Club kids, “Keep up with school, do good, be the best you can be!”
Chief Executive Director
Boys and Girls Club of
Lac Courte Oreilles
Heather Peterson is the Chief Executive Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles. She oversees all the programming of the Club, manages staff, and handles all of the day-to-day activities of the Club, while also teaching a character development class called “Mastering the Journey.” She is also a mother of two children: Kiera and John.
One might expect an employee of Boys and Girls Club to have some positive things to say about the organization they work for – especially on that organization’s webpage! But for Heather Peterson, club alumnus, it’s deeper than that. Rarely in life do people get the opportunity to do something for a profession that they firmly believe in, but Heather is blessed with such an opportunity. For Heather, the Boys and Girls Club is more than a job; it’s a calling.
“I always tell the kids I work with,” said Heather in an interview, “that my job is to make sure you grow up to be a responsible, caring, adult. All of the staff here genuinely care about the child’s well-being.”
When asked what kind of impact the Club had on her as a kid, Heather said, “It’s hard for me to differentiate the impact the Club had on me as a kid versus the impact it has had on me being an employee of the Club.” Heather shared in an interview. “(In helping me get to where I am today), being a staff at Boys and Girls Club has been just as big for me as being a Club Member (when I was younger).”
Heather says a big part of her development as a person was the high expectations the Club had for her. “The culture of the Club is that it expects great things from the youth, great things from the staff, and it makes me expect great things from myself.” Heather holds herself to those high expectations in every aspect of her life, including academics. “I am graduating this spring from LCO College with a degree in Business Management and Accounting. The Club is actually a big part of why I went back to school. I thought that if I’m telling all these kids about the importance of education, I should really practice what I preach.” Since coming back to college a few years ago, Heather has been a regular on the Dean’s List, maintaining an excellent GPA.