LGA employees are making a difference in the lives of school kids in Charlotte by serving as leaders and role models through a club called Young Gents. It’s a program that’s open to boys in third through fifth grades at Pinewood Elementary School, focused on the importance of learning real-world skills.
A trio of LGAers Jeremy Selan, Jarvis Holliday and Josh Fahey spearheaded the initiative after hearing about the need for role models for many of the male students.
“We wanted to find a valuable way to impact the kids’ lives and teach them skills that would help them grow into young gentlemen,” said Jeremy, who works as an accounting manager at LGA. “By showing them how to do things like tie a tie, maintain good hygiene or make a to-do list, we’re hoping to make a difference by teaching them important lessons in a fun and safe environment.”
But perhaps more important, their efforts have given a handful of kids with disadvantages someone to look up to.
Pinewood Elementary is a Title 1 school, meaning it receives funding from the government due to the high percentage of students who come from low-income families. Along with the financial challenges the children’s families may face, many of the boys also lack the presence of a father figure at home.
“A program like this is important to ensure these boys have positive male role models as part of their support system,” said Jarvis, a senior digital content manager. “Almost all of the teachers and staff at their school are women, and some of the kids may not feel comfortable coming to them with questions about growing up. We hope our presence can help fill that void.”
The club meets the first and third Thursday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. It’s part of a bigger initiative called Genius Hour, a program that gives kids the opportunity to explore subjects outside of what they learn in the classroom. In the past there have been clubs dedicated to cooking, knitting and exploring the wilderness.
“It all depends on what volunteers are willing to teach,” said Agnes Banas, organizer of Genius Hour and a third-grade teacher at Pinewood. “The Young Gents club was a hit with our boys this past fall. They were excited to learn about growing up and becoming young gentlemen. They even discussed their new experiences with their peers during the school day.”
Everything the volunteers buy for club purposes comes out of their own pockets, except for a dinner paid for by LGA that was organized for the kids at Village Tavern to celebrate the last club meeting of the fall session.
“My favorite part of spending time with the kids is seeing how energetic and excited they are about everything,” said Josh, who works as a senior copywriter. “I think we are making a difference. If our work impacts the life of even one kid in a positive way, then this has all been worth it.”
Genius Hour and Young Gents kick off again in February, and there are six club dates in all. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Agnes Banas.