111 combined years serving boys, girls, and families

Sylvia Adams, DeeDee Caldwell, and Pappi Franklin have a combined 111 years of service at The Salvation Army Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club.

111 combined years serving boys, girls, and families
March 17
09:42 2022

For years, through various programs and initiatives, the local Boys and Girls Club has been a place where young people can go and learn skills to help them become productive citizens. And for a combined 111 years, Sylvia Adams, Pappi Franklin, and DeeDee Caldwell, have gone the extra mile for the young people and families who rely on those services and programs. 

Adams, who serves as executive director of The Salvation Army Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club, started as a volunteer 34 years ago. Adams said since 1988 she’s only worked somewhere else one year. “I left one year and hated it, came back and I’ve been here ever since,” Adams laughed.

“It was terrible … I left and I really hated it and when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance of coming back. You can go somewhere and chase money, but if you’re not happy, then it kind of defeats the purpose and my heart was here.”

Before being named executive director, Adams also served as programming assistant and physical education director. She also did outreach in housing communities and local schools. “I’ve done a little bit of everything. Every position you can think of, I’ve done,” she said.

In 2010, The Boys and Girls Club relocated to its current location on Reynolds Park Road from its former home on Martin Luther King Drive. Adams said that although she had some good times in the old building, it was time for an upgrade. She said at times it was depressing to walk in the old building. 

The old Boys and Girls Club has since been renovated and is now home to The Enterprise Center, which includes office spaces, a community computer room, event space, a commercial kitchen, and more.

“We were in an old building and when we did our summer program, you could tell when it was raining because we had trash cans lined up in places throughout the building. It was kind of depressing because we knew we had to go in and fix stuff every day,” Adams said. “They had talked about revamping the old building but we didn’t think that would work, so we were excited when we found out we were going to be in a new building.”

Pappi Franklin, who is the unit director, started working at the Boys and Girls Club part-time in 1990. Before she was hired, Franklin was also a volunteer. “I guess I made such a good impression on the executive director at the time that she decided that she would hire me because my children were members and I was a parent volunteer,” Franklin said.

As unit director, Franklin is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations such as  activities, programs, and other events for members and supervising staff.

Franklin said while it can be challenging to keep young people engaged, having the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of children and families throughout the community is what keeps her coming back.

“What keeps me coming back is the fact that I can impact children’s lives and the information that we teach them that they can take forward from generation to generation,” Franklin said.

One of the most significant aspects of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club program is character development. Franklin said their goal is to make sure every young person they come in contact with has respect and integrity.

“They always say first impressions are lasting impressions and that is so true, so we want to instill in our children how to behave no matter where they go,” Franklin said.

Adams said, “Respect goes a long way,” and that’s what they teach. “We try to teach our kids that if you show respect and have respect for yourself, you’re going to go a long way,” she said.

Combined, Adams and Franklin have been serving the community at the Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club for 66 years, but it’s DeeDee Caldwell who has been there the longest. Caldwell, who is a receptionist and office assistant,  has been working at the Boys and Girls Club for 45 years. 

Adams said Caldwell is the backbone of the Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club.

“She handles our membership, the faces that come in, the volunteers that come in. She’s the person that everyone sees,” Adams continued. “It speaks volumes that she’s been here that long. She still loves her job and you will always see that smile on her face when you come in here.”

Caldwell said her time with the Boys and Girls Club has been a blessing. She said serving the young people and families in this community is her calling.

“I came to the conclusion a long time ago that this was my calling to be here and work with the kids, to work with the parents, to work with the volunteers,” Caldwell said. “I just feel like God sent me here to be a help to the staff and do what I can for the kids. Just doing what I can to keep the program running smoothly.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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