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Boys & Girls Club job is 'payback' for Kemp

September 07, 2010|By JANET HEIM

It's been decades since Tim Kemp attended the Boys' Club as a youth in Salisbury, Md., but the profound impact on his life remains.

Kemp, 54, was the youngest of four boys raised by a single mother who worked long hours to make ends meet. He also had a younger sister.

"If it wasn't for the Boys' Club, Lord knows what would have happened to me," said Kemp, who lives in Clear Spring.

It was at the club, which Kemp attended before girls were invited to participate, that he found the father figure he needed in Benny Riddick, who continues to be an inspiration.

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"One of the main things he taught me was about respect," Kemp said.

Kemp added that Riddick and his family gave him a positive model for family life, lessons he's used in raising his daughters.

Kemp is married to Julie Kemp. He has two daughters.

Kemp said he tagged along with his brothers when they went to the club to play football, waiting until he was old enough to do the same. He said he was there "all the time" and started doing odd jobs around the facility as an unpaid junior staffer.

At 16, he was hired as part-time staff to cut the grass and line the ball fields, where he worked until graduating from high school. After graduation, he joined the Air Force in 1975.

Five years later, he moved here to get married and began working at Potomac Center as a state police officer. As he approached retirement more than four years ago, Kemp said he knew he wanted to work with children. He began calling Buck Browning, director of development for Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, weekly.

Browning said he didn't have any openings, but eventually hired Kemp "because he called me and bugged me so much."

Kemp is the paid assistant program director for the Hagerstown site on Pennsylvania Avenue, a part-time job during the school year and full time in the summer. He said he has "super co-workers" and they all get along well.

"I get more out of it than maybe, sometimes, the kids do. It is payback sort of. I know the need is out there, even more so now than in my day, the need for a parental figure," Kemp said.

Kemp said he expected more than 70 youths to attend the after-school program on the first day of school. He said students who have behavior problems in school don't have problems at the Boys & Girls Club because they want to be there.

The after-school program begins with Power Hour, where homework is emphasized. Then comes gym time with basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, kickball and other games.

Some of the other programs include life skills, arts and crafts, computers and a program for males called Passport to Manhood.

"The best part of the job is that every day is different. You never know when something you do, say, or an action with a child will make a difference in a child's life," Kemp said.

He said it's a big responsibility building the character of the future.

"All kids have character. It just needs to be molded in the right way. Here we have a very structured program and time where they can be themselves. We're seeing results," Kemp said.

Editor's note: This story was edited Wednesday, Sept. 8, to correct Kemp's marital status.

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