LaCresha McManus grew up as a Club member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard and Port Hueneme in Southern California. Looking back, she believes that the Club saved her life; the positive environment and mentorship offered at the Club helped her get through tough times and make good decisions.
That experience prompted LaCresha to focus her career on youth development. One of her first jobs brought her back to Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, where she spent over five years building up the Clubs’ teen program, opening a new teen center, and expanding the Keystone and College Prep programs. In 2015, she joined Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco as our Director of Citywide Teen Services, focusing on building teen and leadership programs that set youth on a path to success.
What inspired you to pursue a career in youth development?
I always dreamed of working with inner-city youth. As a Club kid, I had a mentor who took a chance on me. Just having that one person helped me get through tough times and encouraged me to stay on a good path. That’s how I ended up here. Being here and being able to work with a team of people who just want to see teens win is really cool to watch.
Why did you decide to focus on teens?
Coming from the streets and knowing the dangers that our teens face is why I chose to do what I do. My focus on teens is to prepare them for the real world – not just to be ready, but to win.
Teens are the underdogs. Lots of organizations focus on the younger kids and these programs get a lot of financial support. Teens have been falling through the cracks for so many years. At BGCSF, we have a strong focus on all three age groups – elementary school, middle school, and high school – understanding that young kids quickly become teens and they still need the support.
What is one accomplishment that makes you most proud of the work you’ve done at BGCSF?
My biggest accomplishment is creating more flexibility within programs for our High School Services Directors. They are all gifted in so many different ways. More flexibility has given them the opportunity to utilize their strengths and be more creative, ensuring our members have a great Club experience.
What do you love most about working at BGCSF?
To me, Boys & Girls Clubs has always been my second home. To be able to have a position where I can activate change is what I love most about my job. I have a team full of people who are amazing youth development professionals who allow me to think beyond what we are doing day-to-day.
Some people think that success has to be a big title or lots of money – like becoming a CEO or a multi-millionaire. But there are a lot of hugely successful people at BGCSF, who aspired to be like their mentors. That’s a beautiful thing! Being able to prepare the next generation for the future is an opportunity that not many people have.
Being at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco allows me to grow both personally and professionally. I think about the opportunities that the Club gives me to tell my story, while helping youth of color. I get to build a pathway to success for teens, and to help them live out their dreams.
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