Eileen honored with "Opening Doors to Youth" Leadership Award
“Geez, I remember her - I like her.” That typically unremarkable comment from a fifth grade mentee sticks with Eileen Blees as she recalls recently trying to jog his memory about a past influential mentor.
“That is the point when I know we’re forging a relationship with a kid.” said Eileen, a Chaperone with Wakeman Boys & Girls Club’s Outreach at McKinley in Fairfield. “That mentee struggled constantly to relate to peers and adults, but we made a breakthrough.”
Eileen was recently honored by the Connecticut Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs for her leadership at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club. The October 11 reception at Costa Azzurra in Milford recognized eight trustees of Boys & Girls Clubs around the state. Attending with her husband George, Eileen and other recipients were celebrated by Club staff, board members and representatives of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Eileen has been a member of Wakeman’s Board of Trustees for the past eight years, where she currently serves as the Marketing Chair. In that role, Eileen assists staff in shaping the Club’s story and message to constituents, including through the re-launch of www.wakemanclub.org in 2016. She has also been an auction committee member for over a decade.
According to Executive Director Dave Blagys, “Eileen Blees is a stalwart ambassador of the Club’s mission. Her ongoing volunteer participation as a member of the Board of Trustees has had a meaningful impact in the areas of resource development, marketing, and program delivery. We are very grateful to have her as a member of our team.”
Eileen finds her greatest impact and reward in her mentoring of members on a weekly basis. In the Wakeman Outreach at McKinley’s mentoring program, she actively provides supervision and guidance to twenty teen mentors and their elementary aged mentees. At the Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse, Eileen mentors small groups of 4 middle school aged members in the Club’s STEM Mentoring program, where they explore recycling mechanisms, endangered species and math skills through baseball.
“I volunteer through the Club because I think it is an organization that can make a difference for kids. I appreciate this award because it’s nice to know others know making a difference matters.”
Since 1913, Wakeman Boys & Girls Club has offered activities combining athletics, education and service to youth in first to twelfth grade with nationally acclaimed programming and a mission “to guide and inspire young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens.” Led by professional staff and volunteers whose sole purpose is to help kids BE GREAT, the organization now serves more than 3,600 youth annually through its Southport Clubhouse, Outreach at McKinley School in Fairfield, Smilow-Burroughs Clubhouse in Bridgeport and Lighthouse Program at Claytor STEAM Academy in Bridgeport.