Preston "Peppy" Carey Jr.

Club director gives his best to city youth

Club director gives his best to city youth

May 18, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hardly anyone knows Peppy Carey by his given name, Preston Carey Jr.

Carey said he got his nickname as a 2-year-old who, despite having pneumonia, kept getting out of his crib.

Carey, 39, is no less active today.

A father to five boys and one girl, Carey gives time and attention to the children of Hagers-town's Frederick Manor, where the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County has a community center and gym.

As unit director, Carey watches over children five days a week as they do homework and play games.

He's been in and out of many homes, a roving surrogate parent for children who need direction or a role model. He makes sure they get to school, then volunteers as a mentor there.

"Everybody just needs somebody that they can rely on," Carey said.

He said his parents, who were married 33 years, gave him constant support.


His late father worked two or three jobs to provide for the family. His mother remains a steadying force for him.

Carey grew up in Purcellville, Va., as one of two siblings, but there would be eight or nine children in his home at a time, and as many as 15. His parents took in relatives and foster children.

During his childhood, the Loudoun Valley Community Center was the place to be. Carey went to summer camp there, and learned to swim and play pool.

When it snowed, children shoveled outside the director's home so she could get to the center and unlock the doors, he said.

Carey said one of his early jobs was helping children with mental health problems -- which he does now at Brook Lane in Hagerstown.

In his spare time, he coaches young athletes, including his sons. He recently guided three basketball teams at once. When the seasons change, he shifts to baseball and football.

The Frederick Manor center opened in 1996. Carey said he and Buck Browning started the same day.

"I can't even picture the Boys & Girls Club without him," said Browning, the director of development.

He said Carey takes on plenty, supervising programs, staff and fundraising. He's helping launch a Date Smart program for young couples to learn about healthy relationships.

"The thing about Peppy is he cares," Browning said.

Carey said it's satisfying to play a part in hundreds of lives.

"If I was 19 and had to write down my (dream) job description," Carey said, "this would be it."

Q&A with Preston "Peppy" Carey Jr.

Resides in: Hagerstown

Occupation: Frederick Manor unit director, Boys & Girls Club of Washington County

Q: What is your proudest moment?

A: "I think it's my family. Just being able to be there and be a father for my kids."

Q: Who do you most admire, and why?

A: His parents. "My parents were around for a long time. If they argued, they never showed it. We only saw love. They were always holding hands."

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received, and who gave it to you?

A: His mother keeps him from getting too worried, telling him, "God never gives you more than you can handle. So, keep your head up and keep on walking. It will get better."

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: "I'd like to see my boys go off to college." Also, "I'd like to stay steady, not let the woes of the world bring me down. Just try to be tough."

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