Steve McKinney’s life was forever positively transformed the day he and his destiny came into contact with the Oak Ridge Boys Club. At the age of twelve Steve got his first membership card and learned a lifelong passion that would essentially lead to a 27-year career as a club professional.
Steve initially began working at the Oak Ridge Club as a part-time program staff person in 1972 as a high school student, and continued working in the club through college and eventual graduation in 1979. Steve had received the coveted Robert W. Fowler Scholarship through BGCA which covered his tuition, room, and board while he pursued his degree in Special Education at Tusculum College. Steve was even chosen as the Baccalaureate speaker for his graduation. A club kid, diploma in hand, speaking to his peers. It’s what every club strives for from its membership alumnus.
In 1979, BGCA-funded degree in hand, Steve left the friendly confines of his Oak Ridge Club to begin the next phase of his career. Steve hitched on as the Program Director in Dothan, Alabama from 1979-1982, the then accepted a similar position with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County in North Carolina. He also served briefly as the Interim Chief Professional Officer before initially becoming the Executive Director in Murfreesboro, initially a chartered club under the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee banner before receiving their own charter in 1987. Steve was hands on in opening the first facility from scratch and working diligently to get the first 100 club registered members.
In Steve’s 20 years in the Rutherford County the organization has grown in strength, size, and complexity. The club essentially grew to serve youth in Northern Rutherford County, securing over $6 Million in capital and operating gifts, and grew its marquee special event from a meager $10,000 special event, to a $170,000 annual community institution that now can only be housed in the area’s largest ‘mega-church.’ Under Steve’s tenure the organization built one of the strongest and most active non-profit boards in Middle Tennessee, has seen its membership grow nearly 20 fold and its United Way funding has increased by over $140,000. The most amazing and telling contribution of Steve McKinney, was the day he opted to bring one of the club members into his own family and adopted her as a daughter. A sacrifice and commitment that even the most devout professionals and supporters would dare to make. Steve McKinney not only positively impacted thousands of young people’s life, but helped build the Rutherford County organization to a small, single building one club organization, to a multi-club, multi-million-dollar organization that now serves over 2,000 youth in Rutherford and Bedford Counties.
Whatever the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rutherford county is or will be, will certainly stand on the shoulders of the foundation laid by Steve McKinney during his 27-year career. He has proved a dedicated, passionate, and committed professional and has certainly fulfilled every ambition and hope of staff that worked there at the Oak Ridge Boys & Girls Clubs the first day he walked in 1968.