Local Boys & Girls Clubs Director Honored

Local Boys & Girls Clubs Director Honored Click to Enlarge Photo: Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota

(KNSI) - A director with the St. Cloud based Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota has won a prestigious honor.

On Friday, Southside Unit Director Christine Kustelski joined an elite group of individuals when she was inducted into the Youth Intervention Hall of Fame.

Christine is the first member of the Central Minnesota Boys and Girls Clubs to go into the Hall of Fame.

"I was honored to be inducted. This is an organization that really highlights the work that youth workers are doing."

She was nominated for the Friends of Youth Leadership Award and chosen because she stood out as a leader in her field with a tireless commitment to youth.

Kustelski says she really can't take credit for the award alone.

"It is not an individual award at all. Really, what we do on a daily basis takes our entire organization to accomplish it."

Youth Intervention connects young people with caring adults to positively develop their unique skills and talents, so they become productive, contributing members of their community.

She talked about the programs the club is doing that's making a difference in the community.

"The Career Start Program really helps our kids figure out what it is they want to do with their lives and helps them figure out what they have to do to get there. We also have a pretty strong youth arts initiative program."

She says the arts program gives kids a chance to learn about visual arts, digital arts, and dance. They also have programs to help kids with academic success, healthy lifestyles, and character and citizenship programs.

She was one of five Minnesotans who went into the hall of fame this year.

Since 1999, the Youth Intervention Hall of Fame includes individuals that go above and beyond in their service to youth in need and recognizes them for their accomplishments.

Over the years, only 86 individuals out of thousands of youth workers have achieved such status in the Youth Intervention field.

Kustelski has served as a youth development professional for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota since 1997, and she has been the Southside Unit Director since 2002.

The Southside Club has an annual membership of nearly 1,200 youth in grades K-12.

Nearly 100% of the membership utilizes the free or reduced lunch program at school.

The youth Kustelski works with come from challenging family situations, including abuse, neglect, poverty, foster care, and incarcerated parents.

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