Lake City Unit Director Stormey Gillens Runs A Tight Ship

June 07, 2021
Stormey Gillens Stormey Gillens

Lake City Unit Director Stormey Gillens knows how to run a tight ship. As an Army veteran of 20 years and most recently a Senior Army JROTC Instructor at Hannah-Pamplico High School, Mr. Gillens believes in instilling the values of hard work, dedication, and commitment in the members of the Lake City Boys & Girls Club. While he might have a tough exterior, he thinks of the Boys & Girls Club staff as family, and they feel the same. He is passionate about working with youth and is motivated to see the youth he works with succeed. Mr. Gillens believes that “God blesses us to be a blessing to others,” and he has taken this to heart. “I’ve been afforded many life experiences in my time in the military and as an educator. It is because of those life experiences that I want to facilitate passions and dreams for the children at the Club.” Since taking on the role of Unit Director in November 2020, Mr. Gillens has immersed himself in his work, making sure he knows every child by name, designing and implementing new programs and initiatives, and working with the Lake City community to facilitate new partnerships.

Of all the youth success stories Mr. Gillens has encountered so far, one stands out to him the most. Isaiah began attending the Club when he was struggling with school. His teacher told Club staff that he had been having behavioral issues at school, and when asked about it by Mr. Gillens, he said it was not that he did not want to learn, but that he could not read. Club staff assured him that they would help, and so, for the past few months, they have been practicing reading and literacy skills daily when he comes to the Club after school. Isaiah has gone from reading at a first-grade level to now reading at his own grade level. Mr. Gillens says he can hear the new-found confidence in his voice and can see the excitement on his face when he shows how much his reading has improved. Isaiah’s teacher has even commented on how his behavioral problems have improved in addition to making better grades.

Under Mr. Gillens’ leadership, the Lake City Boys & Girls Club has flourished. A Community Learning Center was established at the Club in the fall of 2020 to serve children of working parents who were attending school virtually. Students were able to come to the Club to complete their virtual schoolwork with adult assistance and homework help. As the year is wrapping up, the Community Learning Center has continued, but the Club is now looking to resume normal operations as summer camp approaches. Starting in June, summer camp will provide age-appropriate programs and activities including craft projects and recreation. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. In conjunction with Florence School District 3, from June 14 – June 30 the Club will offer a Community Summer Reading Camp. The camp is designed to reduce summer learning loss in math and reading through teacher led instruction. Following the end of this FSD3 camp, the Club will begin utilizing its own reading instruction, Raz-Plus.

Mr. Gillens hopes to establish several new initiatives in the Lake City Boys & Girls Club in the coming months, including planting a community garden. When Mr. Gillens speaks about the garden, he lights up as he discusses his plans for teaching Club youth how to plant and care for a variety of vegetables and herbs. He hopes the garden will also serve to engage the community with the Club and share some of the fruits of the Club’s hard work. Mr. Gillens is sure to continue to guide the Lake City Boys & Girls Club to success. It will be exciting to see what he will do next!