Nager grew passionate about working with children while serving as a volunteer through the Kernodle Center for Service Learning & Community Engagement.
By Emily Hill ’18
Tara Nager, an 2012 alumni of Elon University with a degree in Human Services, grew passionate about working with children. It all started when she discovered The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.
Nager started as a volunteer and then took a leadership role facilitated by the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement as a Leader in Collaborative Service (LINCS) volunteer coordinator for two years during college. After interning her senior year, Nager took a position after graduating in 2012 and has been in it ever since.
Her volunteer involvement expanded across Lunch Buddies and Boys & Girls Club because she wanted to help make an impact in a child’s life. “I found an organization where the ideals and principles really struck a chord with me and I knew I was helping shape and mold children to reach their full potential,” Nager said.
She has been able to use her human services studies degree and apply what she learned at Elon to her volunteering and future career. This opportunity from the Kernodle Center opened up doors to take her on a completely new life path.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is an after-school program and summer camp that serves 18 local schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System. The organization offers a variety of programs from Power Hour, a homework program, to Smart Moves, a drug and alcohol prevention program, to Street Smart, a gang prevention program, to Healthy Habits and Triple Play, a healthy lifestyles program, to Monday’s Cool, a spiritual enrichment program.
Serving children is a top priority for the organization. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”
Nager said The Boys & Girls Club has come a long way since she moved into this new role, with increased membership, a designated “teen” space and better security systems. Due to these improvements, the organization was asked to host the statewide Youth of the Year Celebration for the first time. Each club sends a club member to compete in an event. In the future, she hopes to grow the club in space and program options.
“It is so special to see the kids in the club grow up year after year and eventually come back to thank the staff for instilling in their minds that they had value and significance,” she said. ‘I have members calling me their ‘Club Mom’ and trying to follow my every move. These relationships are the most rewarding part of my job.”
Nager loves building her evolving connection to Elon by working with student volunteers each year and staying connected to past advisors and professors. She loves to share her “story of finding a passion while at Elon and turning it into a career will inspire someone to their passion in life, as scary as it may seem.”