Then, and now, he finds magic at Boys & Girls Club

Buck Browning

Buck Browning

April 29, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

As a youngster, Buck Browning pounded basketballs in the gym of his local Boys & Girls club.

Even after he left, he realized the doors never close.

Now 38, Browning apologized that he could not contain his enthusiasm as he talked about one of the only jobs he has ever known. On a snowy day, when Washington County Public Schools were closed, Browning was back at home - touring the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County facility on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"There's magic in here, there really is, and you don't get to meet the magic until the kids are here because they bring it," said Browning, the director of development for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.

As an 11-year-old, Browning said, he started going to his local club, where he shot hoops and pool, because both of his parents worked. Now, programming for children includes homework tutoring, computer education, graphics design, arts and crafts and field trips.


"A lot of kids are from single-parent families, so any assistance we can offer, any guidance, any nurturing, it's just what we do," said Browning, who applies for grants on behalf of the clubs.

Peppy Carey, who runs the club at Frederick Manor in Hagerstown, said he and Browning both began work on Dec. 2, 1996, and they feel motivated to help for the same reasons.

"It's about kids," Browning said. "It's about their future. It's about them making something out of their lives. Both of us never really grew up with a lot of money, and we know what it's like to work hard to get what you want,"

The nine local Boys & Girls Clubs in Frederick and Washington counties serve hundreds of children, ages 6 to 18, each day, Browning said.

"I guess I grew up as a Boys & Girls club kid, and I saw the impact it has, and that's what I saw myself doing," Browning said.

Browning pointed out the computers youngsters now can use. His boyhood club didn't emphasize homework, he said, but academics now are one of the club's major points of emphasis.

When some high-school students who were wavering about going to college asked a staff member about her experience, she found a way to convince them - she took them on tours of local campuses, Browning said.

"They don't have to come here. We have to design a program that makes them want to come here, plus give them the skills they need to be successful, and that's a challenge, and it's good people that meet that challenge," Browning said.

At a recent event, Browning said, one current Boys & Girls club youngster introduced Carey and told people Carey was a father figure.

"When a kid stood up the other day and said to a man I've known 10 years, 'Peppy is like my father,' How many paychecks is that worth?" Browning asked.


Name: Buck Browning

Hometown: Hagerstown

Occupation: Director of development for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County

What was your proudest moment?: "Becoming a dad. We waited a long time to have a child, and when we did, it was everything I ever dreamed of and more."

Whom do you most admire, and why?: "Maybe my wife because ... she has such courage."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who gave it to you?: "I don't remember who said it, but it was the adage that people don't remember what you say but they will remember how you make them feel."

What is the next goal you would like to achieve?: "Well, I think sustaining all of the programs that we have going at a high quality ... We need to be able to build a gym (at Noland Village) and raise funds without adversely affecting any of the other programs we have running."

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