Charles “Chuck” Owens, former executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, was inducted into the Tennessee Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame at the Tennessee Area Council annual dinner in Murfreesboro in September.
The award honors individuals who have achieved the distinction of being true champions for children and inspiring them to become the “best of the best.” Only 12 current and former members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America movement have received this award in Tennessee.
After more than 39 years service in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America movement, Owens retired from BGCGK in May 2010. He had served as executive director for 19 years.
“Over the years here, I have been both a father and a grandfather to these kids,” Owens said.
Through his leadership, the organization grew 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. Owens enjoyed raising money. Whether it was calling friends requesting help, shaking a stocking at JC Penney’s during Christmas, or soliciting gifts for the annual gala, the Boys & Girls Club was his passion.
Owens believes his greatest legacy is the relationship he built with so many young people. Acting as a role model, mentor and occasional disciplinarian, he was able to help innumerable young people 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,’” he said.
Owens’ club career began in 1971 at 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 U.S. 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 occurred in 1979 when he became the assistant executive director of the Boys Club of Knoxville. There he developed a program that provided health screenings to more than 600 youth. This program received a Program Excellence Honor Award in 1980.
In 1981, Owens accepted the position of executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Wayne County, N.C. 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, including 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. The Owens have three children, Chuck, Jeff and April, and five grandchildren. His retirement has allowed them to spend time with their family and the opportunity to pursue their antique business.
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport was established in 1950 and serves more than 1,000 youth annually. The club is open year-round in five llocations.
For more information, call 230-4160, ext. 231.