Director Of Teen Services, Felicia Dalton, To Fill Role
Kenosha, WI – April 12, 2017 – After more than 45 years mentoring youth in Kenosha, Dennis Bedford, Youth Empowerment Director of Outreach & Schools of the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, will be retiring in July.
Each year, Bedford serves as the Case Manager for 50+ local youth. Youth are referred from KUSD, DCFS, Kenosha County and other organizations to receive this extra guidance and support. Bedford spends time with each child and their family supporting him or her in any way possible, often times connecting the child with support services, positive programming and opportunities.
While counseling these kids is certainly part of the job description, the endless emotional support he offers is not; the voluntary financial contributions he often provides is not; and the hope he has in every individual is not.
Director of Operations, Kathy Holland, remembers a meeting Bedford left early, because a kid’s car broke down and he went to go pick him up. She remembers the child who was in and out of corrections from age 12 – 16, who Bedford constantly visited and mentored who is now an entrepreneur and DJ, married with 2 kids, and has not had any police contact since his release at 16.
She remembers a young athlete who wanted to play football but couldn’t afford the equipment. Once again, Bedford was there to help, so long as the child held up his end of the bargain by getting good grades and volunteering. “It’s important to for the kids to earn it with hard work and have dignity,” said Bedford. The list of stories goes on.
Over the years, Bedford has received a number of well-deserved awards. Most recently, Bedford was named the National Mentor of the Year for Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2006, and received the Living Legend Award from the Mahone Foundation in 2015.
“It’s overwhelming to think of the impact that one person has made in this community,” Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Director of Finance, Deb Cutts, said, “When it’s part of the essential fiber of your life, you can’t just not do it anymore.”
With roots in Kenosha, friends and countless professional connections, Bedford says that this is something he will always be doing, “My heart is here. I have such a love for the relationships with the schools, staff members, kids and community organizations.”
One of Bedford’s recent involvements is serving on the Kenosha Unity Coalition committee. The coalition, comprised of of 70+ community members, work together to analyze data, share stories and information and ultimately work to lessen the amount of violence in the community.
Bedford hopes to spend more time with his family in, what he refuses to call, “retirement.” While his family has considered moving to Atlanta on numerous occasions, the forward-thinking, progressive nature of Kenosha has kept him here.
The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha is committed to providing youth empowerment programming and is proud to announce that current Director of Teen Services, Felicia Dalton, will fill this role. Dalton, a former BGCK Youth of the Year winner (1998), served for 10 years in the Air Force, received her Masters of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and has extensive experience in mental health and social work. Dalton will spend many weeks with Bedford to ensure a smooth transition.
Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha CEO, Jake McGhee, says, “The entire community has been blessed to work with Dennis Bedford over the years. We’re excited to have Felicia take on this responsibility and are lucky she’ll have time to learn from one of the best during the transition.”
Bedford preaches that the biggest, most important part of case managing and counseling is giving the kids hope. Although Bedford’s official club status will change, he will remain a large part of giving kids hope, along with Dalton, the entire Boys & Girls Club and the many community stakeholders committed to this mission.
A reception celebrating Bedford’s impact on the community will be held at the BGCK for community partners later this year. More information will be released as details are finalized.
The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha is a youth guidance organization dedicated to promoting health, social, educational, vocational, cultural, character and leadership development. The club helps youth improve their lives by building skills, values and self-esteem. Celebrating 25 years serving youth in Kenosha, the club has launched the “$25 for 25 more years” campaign, with proceeds from the fundraiser going to support expansion of free transportation to three additional elementary schools. Those interested in making a donation can visit www.BGCK25for25.org.