Updated: Mar 2
When Benito Garcia was 10 years old, he started tagging along with his two older brothers to the Boys Club of Greeley. He was too young to play baseball with them, but his father—who was raising the three boys on his own and worked a lot to provide for his family—knew that Benny would be safer there after school than running around in their neighborhood.
“We lived in a low-income area with a lot of crime,” explains Benny, “and the Club helped me avoid the path that some take, the one I might have taken if I didn’t know what else was out there.”
Thanks to the Club, Benny says, he learned the importance of leadership, and he appreciates that he was exposed to new experiences like music, technology, swimming and the all-important after-school snacks. He also knows in his heart that his time at the Club is what ultimately led him to his 25-year career in law enforcement—including the past eight years as the chief of police in Milliken.
Benny and his wife, Jackie, both grew up in Greeley, and they understand the importance of giving, and of knowing that what they give makes a difference to each child. It’s why they’ve both been donating monthly through the Blue Door Society for several years. It’s also why Benny takes time out of his busy schedule to volunteer as a Board member for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County.
As a member of the board, Benny explains, he’s able to see it all from a different angle than what he saw as a child while hanging out with his brothers at Monfort Clubhouse (back when it was the only clubhouse around). “I know now how each piece comes into play to support each child,” he says. “Everything leads to the kids, and I know firsthand exactly what the Club can provide for them.”
Benny and Jackie have real evidence that the Club makes a difference in the lives of the kids—because Benny was once one of those kids, and he knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without the Club. “The kids understand what we’re trying to do, and they’re humbled by what they’re being provided, because they understand they’re important,” he says, “just like I was.”
Through the Club, Benny adds, he was exposed to so many successful leaders, like teachers and lawyers, and he’s grateful for that. “Now it’s my turn to let these kids know: There’s value in your future. You’re important. It’s your turn to go out and make a difference, and if you join the Club, you will be able to make a difference.
“The Club will always be part of my story. I’ll always talk about the Club and what it can provide for these kids, just like it did for me.”