By Eric Heinz
Boys & Girls Clubs have been an instrumental part of Terence Hughes’ life, so much that he moved across the country to fill the chief executive officer role at the South Coast Area branch.
Hughes said he obtained a bachelor’s degree in physical education and said he grew up going to a Boys & Girls Club. Initially he thought his life’s path was to teach physical education and coach high school soccer, his favorite sport.
“I’ve been fortunate to be part of the Boys & Girls Club; this is actually my fourth club,” Hughes said.
Before coming to San Clemente, he worked for two years with the Ronald McDonald House, a charitable organization that provides assistance to hospitalized children and their families. He said he was still raising his own son in Connecticut at the time and was waiting for something permanent to become available.
“There wasn’t a local club that had a need, so it was a good spot in between Boys & Girls Clubs,” Hughes said. “I realized after about a year…it was very sad dealing with families. Not every child goes home (from the hospital).”
After his son went on to college, Hughes found the position online. He said the information he found online couldn’t convey the beauty of San Clemente.
Prior to a decade working at Boys & Girls Clubs, he worked in various businesses and restaurants.
“My ability to be as comfortable in a board room as I was comfortable in a game room with kids was really a nice mix,” Hughes said. “I was able to bring people into the Boys & Girls Clubs who may not have had a need for it, and the next thing you know they were using it and visiting, and bringing in more financial support.”
A hallmark of the South Coast Area club that Hughes’ predecessor cultivated was the College Bound program. Hughes said that program will continue, but he also wants to put emphasis on community leadership programs, such as the Torch Club and Keystone Club, youth leadership clubs with high school and middle school students. Hughes said he also wants to start weekend recreational leagues in baseball, basketball and other sports.
“Academic success is one of the key components of what Boys & Girls Clubs do,” Hughes said, “but Boys & Girls Clubs attract kids primarily because they’re fun. Kids are in school six, seven hours a day. They don’t want to come here for another three hours of school. We’re fun and through that we have to be responsible and make sure kids are getting their homework and research projects done. So we can augment that and help kids who are struggling in school.”
Hughes said it’s imperative that the club keeps in contact with local schools’ principals and faculty to ensure these academic achievements are made.
“But kids need to be kids,” Hughes said. “The minute they don’t have to come here anymore, they’re not going to come here anymore. And I’ll measure our success by the kids who come but don’t need to.”