Kyle Godfrey started attending the Powers-Ginsburg Saturday Sports Program when it began in the fall of 2009. He was just out of the sixth grade. Since then, he has become a volunteer for the program, where his focus has shifted from competition and entertainment to making a difference in the lives of children who currently attend.
Today, Godfrey is a college student, majoring in kinesiology with the hope of becoming a P.E. coach. Saturday Sports gives him the opportunity to share his passion for sports, between caring for his aunt, working part time, and going to school.
Godfrey came back to serve as a volunteer because of the people and the happiness the program brings them. “Seeing little kids’ smiles on their faces and making others laugh is what makes me go back every single time,” he said. His desire to make them smile stems from his own experience early on. Godfrey feels that the program served as an escape for him when he was younger and now he hopes to create that same type of environment for other kids.
Godfrey particularly likes being a role model to the children who attend. “The home life isn’t always a good place to be and being able to interact with others and getting to meet other people” is an alternative that he wants them to experience.
Reflection on Experiences
In reflecting on his own past, Godfrey said “I came from a broken down house with parents who were constantly in and out of jail, just hoping that my brother didn’t have to see what I did.” Saturday Sports gave him the opportunity to go somewhere and experience a couple hours of freedom.
“If I can just give a kid, for those two hours at Saturday Sports, the time of their life and make them forget what is going on in their home lives, then that’s really what makes the experience so valuable for me,” he said.
In looking back on his involvement with the program, Godfrey named three specific volunteers that made an early impact on him, namely Kelli Hudson. “There aren’t many people like Kelli in this world,” he said noting her ability to interact with others in need and offer them help. She showed that she cared, with simple acts like attending Godfrey’s high school graduation. The impact she made “has motivated me, more than anything, that you really can grow up having nothing and be able to give back and become something wonderful,” he said.
Role Models – Past and Present
Hudson works very closely with Ludie Olenchalk, who leads the program at Powers. Along with her daughter, Hudson has been going since 2009 and it’s rare that she misses the chance to connect with the kids on the weekends. She has watched Kyle develop over the years and noted that “the kids look up to him and see that he has ‘made it out‘ so there is hope for them too,” she said.
Godfrey explained how his perspective changed as he matured over the years and became a volunteer. “It became more about seeing little ones learn what each game was about and making sure they were having fun.” He said.
After he graduated, Godfrey contacted Hudson and told her that he wanted to give back to the program. “[Kyle] said that he wanted to give more,” Hudson explained. “The next Saturday he showed up with a giant bag full of brand new equipment.”
The children love it when Godfrey comes to Saturday sports. They confide in him and tell him they look up to him. “It means more than what words can describe,” Godfrey said. “I don’t want to let those kids down because I know one day they can become something much greater than others might say to them. Being a volunteer for Saturday Sports is everything to me.”