Youth empowerment a common bond for Brockenbrough family
Austin Brockenbrough III was first introduced to the Boys & Girls Clubs in 1968 and was immediately drawn to its mission of empowering young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to succeed in life. He became an active board member, a prolific fundraiser and a cheerleader for the cause. His love of the organization is well-known, and he has involved his children whenever possible.
His son, Austin IV, is also an ardent advocate for the Boys & Girls Club, recently concluding his own service as board chairman. “Watching my father do this kind of work inspired my passion for giving back,” he said. “As a kid, I would join my dad on picnics at Camp Little Hawk with members from the Club. Reflecting back now, I realize values were ingrained in me early to help other people and do what I can to make a difference in my community.”
Family is the ethos of the organization. Adults and mentors act as a source of guidance for students, often leading to life-long relationships. When Austin IV introduced friends to the Club, they were inspired to host a campout with Blue Sky Fund for several high schoolers. For some students, it was the first opportunity in their lifetimes to travel outside of their neighborhood. During that trip, Austin met a young lady who aspires to become a heart surgeon. Weeks later, he arranged for her to observe heart surgery at a Richmond hospital.
The Club’s programs are centered around helping youth enter adulthood life-ready. “The Boys & Girls Club is extremely effective at what they do,” said Austin III. “Our secret weapon is providing a safe place for essential mentoring and life skills for students.” With support from a record-breaking capital campaign, the Club has plans to open a state-of-the art space in the East End to resemble a modern business school for kids and their families. With a heightened focus on youth ages 13-23, there is recognition that not every student is college bound. The goal is to prepare all students to obtain a livable, promotable job.
“I’ve gotten more out of the club than what I’ve given, and I’ve tried to share this passion with my daughters. Outside of my family, my work with the Boys and Girls Club is the most important thing in my life,” said Austin IV.