On staff since age 10
What started as a trip with older brothers became volunteer passion
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Andy VanEyck will never forget the first day he walked through the doors of the East Side Boys & Girls Club in Green Bay.
"I was seven," he said. "My older brothers went there all the time, so they brought me along. It had everything, games, pool tables. I was hooked."
Now, 11 years later, VanEyck, a recent graduate of Notre Dame Academy, Green Bay, was named Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. The honor recognizes his service as a volunteer at the club. He became a junior staff member at age 10.
"I wanted to help," he said. "I started behind the desk checking people in and out, answering phone calls and checking out games."
"It was neat to see someone so young wanting to give something back," said Rich Crevier, former athletic director at the Green Bay Boys & Girls Club, who now serves as the executive director at the DAR Boys & Girls Club in Menominee, Mich. "Andy made my job so much easier. He was always looking for ways to help. I never had to sweep a floor when he was around. Instead of simply playing basketball at the club, he learned to be an official. He really helped me with the kids. He had so much patience for someone his age. I really admired how he showed leadership among his peers. He deserves the recognition."
VanEyck said the award adds to the many gifts he has received through his involvement at the Boys & Girls Club.
"You feel so good about yourself when you help other people," he said. "I have met so many friends there and have experienced so many things. I met Brett Favre a couple times. I got tickets to go to games. I went to Great America a couple times. Through being the Youth of the Year, I was able to tour Lambeau Field and meet Mike Sherman. It shows that if you give something you receive so much more in return."
This year, VanEyck, who attended grade school at Ss. Peter & Paul School in Green Bay, volunteered at the after-school program, coordinated by the Boys & Girls Club, at Nicolet School in Green Bay.
"I was the games program director," he said. "It gives kids the opportunity to participate in activities in the school gym and commons. It keeps them out of trouble by giving them something to do. There were 200 kids signed up for the program. We averaged 60 to 70 kids each day with 20 to 25 coming to games. The goal was to help the kids become better people and to keep them off the streets."
VanEyck, who was a member of the Notre Dame baseball team, plans to continue his involvement with the Boys & Girls Club.
"This summer I want to volunteer my time or play games with the kids there," he said. "It will always be a part of me. I'm grateful for what it has given me. The values I have learned in school and at the Boys & Girls Club carry over wherever you go in life."