Hometown Hero: Kim Maneotis loves working with Craig kids
On a regular day in the after-school hours, Kim Maneotis sees dozens of children running around, playing and just generally enjoying themselves. To have her pick one kid out of the bunch as her favorite — with many more around in the summertime — would not only be unfair, it would be inaccurate.
Because they’re all her favorite.
As the unit director for the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, Maneotis strives to make all the kids in the region who pass through her halls feel special and part of “a safe, nurturing environment.”
“We’re a family here, we care about one another, and everybody that walks through that door, we know a little bit about them,” she said.
Her four years with the organization follows a wealth of experience with the youth of Northwest Colorado. A resident of Craig since 1982, Maneotis taught preschool for 14 years within the Moffat County School District before the chance to be part of the Boys & Girls Club arose.
“It was a really hard choice because I loved the kids and the team I worked with, but I felt that this was a new door opening for me,” she said. “Instead of building relationships with 30 kids in a classroom, I had an opportunity to impact over 100 kids on a daily basis. All of us who work with kids in the community I think have the same goals — I’m just under a different roof.”
Besides her responsibilities overseeing Boys & Girls Club’s recreational and educational services for families, she also has worked to build programs through the club like the Mobile Food Pantry and Adopt a Grandparent, which introduces kids to elderly residents of the region.
“The things that our generations have is due in part to the previous generations and the trials and tribulations they went through, so I think that’s really important for our kids to have that understanding of our aging population,” she said.
Maneotis works with the full gamut of ages at the Boys & Girls Club, from the elementary school children to the teenagers who are part of the staff. One of the most rewarding things for her is seeing how the younger kids look up to the older ones, known as “red shirts.”
“We’ve got high school kids who were club kids who have moved up to that,” she said. “They’re role models leading programs, and so many kids can’t wait to be a red shirt. It’s quite a place of dignity for them.”
The effect Maneotis has on all the kids at the Boys & Girls Club is something that has not gone unnoticed by her co-workers.
“She’s so incredible about what she does, and I have never met a woman better fit to work with kids,” Program Director Kari Neuman said. “She mentors, strengthens and even disciplines with love. Her heart is just made of gold. She lives and breathes Boys & Girls Club, and it shows in the kids whose lives she touches.”
As for the woman who is known as “Miss Kim” to the young charged in her care, she’s just glad to have the chance to be part of everything.
“I love my job, I love the team that I work with, and I feel blessed to come to work every day,” she said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.
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