From Juvy to NFL, banker credits Boys & Girls Club
One Saturday night, Richard Fain found himself in an uncomfortable position. He stared at the ceiling from a bunk bed in juvenile detention.
He was around 13 years old and had been picked up for stealing a Polo shirt and shorts while with friends at Edison Mall in Fort Myers.
My mom taught me better than this, he thought.
Up until that time, his friends fell into two categories: kids who dabbled in shoplifting and would soon graduate to selling drugs and kids who competed in sports, like the young men he played basketball with at the first Boys & Girls Club in Lee County.
“That was really the turning point in my life,” said Fain, 46. “I could go the straight and narrow and pursue education or I was going to be a criminal. The Boys & Girls Club was really instrumental in pulling me more to my athletic side of my friendships.”
“It allowed us to see what we could be.”
The Lee chapter of the national group is celebrating 40 years and is looking for stories from local residents, who have been helped by a Boys & Girls Club.
As a young man, Fain focused on sports. He earned a football scholarship to theUniversity of Florida and was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991 after graduation. He played professional football through 1993. A year later, he returned to Fort Myers and started a career in banking. He’s a senior vice president for Encore Bank. He now sits on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County.
Fain’s story bears parallels with Dominic Crumbly, a 16-year-old Dunbar High freshman. Crumbly is a regular volunteer and member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County and was named a Lee County Youth of the Year finalist. Raised by single mothers, both Fain and Crumbly have spent formative years in subsidized housing in Dunbar, Fort Myers neighborhoods pocked with poverty and crime.
“They’re fighting the same war, almost, because there’s such a hard draw pulling them to the streets,” said Shannon Lane, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County.
Forty years ago, educator James Middlebrooks started the first Lee club at a Dunbar gym as a basketball program. For Fain, Middlebrooks was a role model in absence of a stable father figure at home. He was the oldest of three siblings and was in charge when his mother was at work as a caregiver for people with mental disabilities.
Crumbly started attending the Boys & Girls Club at Renaissance Preserve about three years ago after leaving a domestic violence shelter, where he shared a room with his family. They moved into Renaissance Preserve, affordable housing spearheaded by the city’s housing authority.
“It was kind of like a mansion,” said Crumbly, who shares a three-bedroom townhouse with two siblings and mother, Judy Crumbly.
He’s made the choice to play basketball and focus on school. Last season, he played on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity squads. He steers away from socializing with teenagers without aspirations.
“I’ve always wanted to go far in life,” he said.
He started working in lawn care around age 11 and has moved on to car detailing. He plans to attend college and dreams of playing professional basketball but has a back-up plan of starting a business, like a barber shop. Outside of basketball season, he spends his afternoons at the Boys & Girls Club. He volunteers to help with the younger kids and attends the teen program.
“It’s fun and you learn stuff and you go places. Otherwise, I’d be sitting at home,” he said. “It takes you to a different level in life.”
Crumbly’s mother, Judy Crumbly, owns a cleaning business. When the 46-year-old returns home from work and Dominic is not there, she knows he’s at the club. Her 14-year-old daughter also attends.
“My heart is at peace because I know where they are,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to make sure my kids were in a safe place when I’m working.”
In the past 40 years, the chapter, which relies on local donors, has evolved from a basketball club to a youth development program at five locations throughout Lee County for about 1,400 members. The clubs focus on the arts, sports, education, health and life skills, character and leadership with the end goal of forming productive citizens.
“We’ve become outcome-driven,” Lane said. “We know we want our children to graduate from high school with a plan.”
The chapter hopes to increase the number of kids served and find a larger and permanent home in Lehigh Acres, where the current club can serve about 75 kids. This school year, there were nearly 140 kids on the waiting list for that club, said Lane. Fain, who has sat on the board about six years, shares his story with children and donors. The local group participated in a 2013 Florida TaxWatch study that found the Boys & Girls Clubs saved taxpayers thousands in keeping teens out of the juvenile justice system and on track with their education.
“You can either build more prisons or invest in these programs to save these kids before they get to that point,” Fain said.
Share Your Story
Contact Shannon Lane of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County to share your Boys & Girls Club story if you are a former Boys & Girls Club member from anywhere in the United States now living in Southwest Florida. Lane can be reached at 334-1886 or email@example.com. Or leave a comment at the club’s Facebook page at facebook.com/boysandgirlsclubs.
By the Numbers
• 5: Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County locations in Lehigh Acres, Suncoast Estates,Bonita Springs and Fort Myers.
• $10: Cost of dues for a school year per member. A child is never turned away if a guardian can’t pay.
• $1,000: Cost of services per member a year.
• 40: Years the the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County has existed.
• 420: Number of kids served in a day on average in local clubs.
• 1,400: Number of kids served in a year.
• $1 million: Operating budget
For more information, visit loveleekids.org/
Summer camp supply donations
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County is looking for donations of supplies to help stock its Summer Enrichment Programs in Fort Myers and Bonita Springs.
Each summer, the club provides 400 of its members the opportunity to participate in the clubs’ Summer Enrichment Programs that address the “summer learning loss” experienced by at-risk and underserved youth.
Requested donations include batteries, cleaning supplies, books for elementary, middle and high school levels, craft paint and paint brushes, white and colored copy paper, construction paper, markers, stencils, fabric paint, yarn, poster board, Styrofoam, modeling clay, musical instruments, costumes, pool sticks, ping pong balls, foosballs, basketballs, soccer balls, whiffle ball equipment, jump ropes, kick balls, flag football belts, new board games, table games, paper plates and napkins, mixing bowls, whisks, and fruits and vegetables.
Donations can be delivered to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, adjacent to the Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers.
For more information, contact Shannon Lane at 334-1886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.