Women who inspire us: Karyn Hickey

Tell us a little about yourself: I currently am a Physical Education teacher in Hamburg Germany, I have a bachelor from Salem State University in sport and movement science and Masters Degree in education from Plymouth State University  with concentration in adventure education. 

Tell us your “Club Story”: I remember my neighbor Jenny who was a teenager took me when I was 7 and I didn’t like it cause I didn’t know anyone. It wasn’t until a year later that I went back again with my younger brother Luke. I remember Donna making sure we felt comfortable. There was always something to do! Dance was one of the things that kept me going at the club. However there was always something to do which was what made me stay. I could play basketball in the gym, or do an art project, or play a card game in the game room. We always had things we could do even when we would say we were bored. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends and helping Donna with the Bingo cards on Wednesday nights as I got older. Around the time I was 14 Donna and Flynny offered me a position at the front desk. This also was my first job. Little did I know that working at the Club shaped who I wanted to be as an adult.

Favorite Memories: There are so many to pick from! Like I said being able to do bingo cards with Donna, or when Moreno would roll out the TV for Bruins games. Also playing capture the flag in the gym and out on the hot top. Reaching the age where you got to stay after 6pm (I think that was the time) until closing. Doing art with Julie and having her believe in your talent that you didn’t even know you had. Being on the Dance team with Charleen and getting to dance in Faneuil Hall for Cocoa-Cola and then my senior year being able to have our recital on a stage instead of in the gym at the Club. Teaching other Club kids how to knit and make friendship bracelets. 

How did the BGC shape your life: The Club was the 1st place in the world and I knew then that was when I wanted a job working with kids in a recreation setting. After I graduated high school I went and worked at YMCA as a lifeguard which actually brought me back to the Club a few years later. I became the aquatic director at the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence. Stoneham didn’t have a pool yet. Was There for about 7 years and loved it. It was my passion and calling. I was pursuing my education during the day and working at the Club in the afternoon and evenings. I became a Physical Education teacher. I taught in public schools in Ma. for 3 years, then I moved to Nashville TN and taught at a private school for another 3 years, which now has led me to Germany for my first year working at an international school.

If it wasn’t for the club I wouldn’t know that there are adults that care about you. It is the place where I found my first role models and who I wanted to be like as I got older. I knew that one day I wanted to be a positive role model for other children that might not have that anywhere else in their lives like me. If It wasn’t for these adults believing in me and seeing my potential then I don’t know where I would be today.

What word of advice would you give young girls who attend our clubs today: Donna can be tough, but she is tough because she cares. Know that you can do anything and that the staff at the club are going to be cheering you along the way. Also don’t be afraid to try everything the club has to offer, you never know what talent you have hidden and the club is the safest place to explore it!

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