Chuck Owens’s years of experience with and dedication to the Boys & Girls Club movement serve to more than qualify him as a member of the Hall of Fame. After more than 39 years’ service, Chuck retired in May, 2010 from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, where he served as Executive Director for the last 19. As Chuck has stated, “Over the years here, I have been both a father and a grandfather to these kids”.
His leadership allowed the organization to grow from one small club to a multi-site system that includes three public housing clubs and one of the newest main campuses in the Boys & Girls Club organization. While many would assume that the crowning jewel in Chuck’s career was the 44,000 sq. ft. Eastman Club, he shrugged it off and gives credit to others. “The community proved itself to be very generous and caring about its youth. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented Board Members, volunteers and staff as we grew the Club into what it is today”. He believes his greatest legacy is the relationship he built with so many young people. Acting as a role model, a mentor, sometimes a disciplinarian, he was able to help innumerable young people to develop into responsible, independent adults. “This is an amazing country with unlimited opportunities. I wanted the Club members to learn that they are in charge of their futures, no matter what their condition is today, they have the power to change it for the better. I told the kids “learn to row your own boat”.
Chuck’s Club career began in 1971, working for the Boys Clubs of Greater Washington – Prince William County. There he was responsible for establishing a delinquency prevention and youth development program for troubled youth, which was funded for a four-year cycle through the US Division of Justice & Crime Prevention. This program was recognized by the Boys Clubs of America for Program Excellence in 1975 and 1978.
The next rung up the Boys Club ladder for Chuck occurred in 1979 when he became the Assistant Executive Director of the Boys Club of Knoxville, TN. There he developed a program which provided health screening to over 600 youth. This program received a Program Excellence Honor Award in 1980. In 1981, Chuck accepted the position of Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County, NC. While there, he was instrumental in the establishment of an Endowment Fund. Additionally, through his leadership, the organization’s membership grew from 400 to 1,500 youth.
Chuck received numerous awards and honors such as the National Service Award, Man & Youth award. Throughout his career, however, he relied on one special person, his wife, Sherry. Her support of his passion for the Boys & Girls Club movement never wavered throughout his many years of service.