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VIProfile: Brittany Montgomery

Brittany Montgomery, Director of the Smyrna Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rutherford County, tells her staff that they are planting seeds with the work they’re doing and interactions that they are having with the youth and parents that walk through their doors.

“We may never see the harvest of those seeds,” Montgomery said, “but it’s important that we are intentional with the time we have with our members. My kids (that’s what I call them) may never remember every activity I ran with them, but I always want them to remember that I was their biggest cheerleader and that their life is important to me.”

Montgomery didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do after she graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, but she had attended the Boys & Girls Clubs when she was a child as her mother was a single mother. Her mother had depended on programs like the Club and local community centers to provide safety and fun for Montgomery while she worked.

“I remember spending hours and hours at our local community centers where I had the chance to be exposed to so much -- from singing to playing tennis. I have been extremely blessed to have had so many Angels in my life. God placed the right people in my life at the right time, EVERYTIME!! I know the benefit of these programs first-hand; the benefit of a strong community of people that believe in you more than you believe in yourself! I am a product of that type of community. I desired to be that for someone else. I knew I wanted to be able to see and cultivate the potential in kids, like someone did for me.”

While she always knew she wanted to work with youth, she just didn’t know in what capacity. When she was a kid, one of her favorite things to do would be to play school teacher, using old lesson books she got from her teachers at school, the old books made her feel more official. She was debating about going back to school to get a teaching degree when she applied for a job with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“This was a major ‘faith’ move,” explained Montgomery. “I went from a very secure full-time job, where I was beginning to grow into the position to working a part-time job at the Boys & Girls Clubs. But, once I began at the Clubs, I knew that this was what I was called to do. Now, nearly 10 years later, I am still here!”

One of the hardest things Montgomery has every had to deal with was shutting down the Clubs in March of 2020 when COVID-19 hit. It has been difficult for the organization because they know the need for their services. Every staff member is invested in the total wellbeing of each child and family that they are blessed to serve. But, after closing their doors, they immediately started serving dinners curbside to all of their families, because they understood the need.

“COVID hit our Clubs hard,” Montgomery emphasized. “The foundation of who we are was rocked when we were forced to shut our doors to the hundreds of families that we serve... Bouncing back has been challenging, but we are up for the challenge. Our goal is to not only serve the youth and their families, but also ensure that our youth are safe. Scaling back our numbers for safety, meant not being able to serve all of those who need us most. We are slowly getting back to some normalcy in the Clubs; it’s been nice to hear the laughter and playful screams again.”

While the shutdown was hard, it allowed the staff to take a step back and see what was working, what was not, how the club could do better and be better for the community and their members. This has included creating some new programs that are providing the kids with skills they can use in the future while having fun at the same time. One of those new programs, which is very popular, is the Drone Legends Program. Through the program, the kids learn how to fly drones and how to code. While they are learning what will be marketable skills, all they know is that they are having a good time playing with drones.

“I am also proud of the work we are doing to bridge the [learning] gap [caused by the pandemic],” noted Montgomery. “Recently, our Reading Specialist, Mrs. Karen, brought two boys into my office who had not been able to decode the alphabet and had been struggling with letter sounds. But now, these boys read me a book! They were so excited! We jumped around, took pictures and celebrated them! That’s why we are here, to bridge the gaps and make a positive difference.”

In the near future, the Club plans to reopen their teen centers and go back to the programs they had to prepare the kids for life after high school. Their teen programming provided job readiness training, preparation for college and a safe place where teens WANTED to be. They all look forward to seeing teens back in their buildings.

“One of our biggest needs [for the teen programming] is mentors,” explained Montgomery. “I have seen how positive mentors have increased our members selfesteem by giving that extra support that is needed. We are hoping to begin this program in the new year, as we begin to see more community volunteers in our Clubs again.”

When not at the Boys & Girls Clubs, Montgomery is the mother of an AWESOME and ENERGETIC almost three-year-old named Jackson. She and her husband of 11 years, Jeremy, attend First Baptist Church on East Castle and enjoy eating at local restaurants, like Marina’s and Lemongrass. And, she loves watching home renovations shows on HGTV. Originally from Ohio, she has lived in Middle Tennessee most of her life and has been in Murfreesboro for more than 15 years.

As Montgomery contemplated the last two years, she thought of how resilient everyone has been, from the Clubs Board of Directors, to the staff, to the families, to the kids and herself.

“It’s not been easy, but it’s been worth it!”

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