Lawrence Boys’ and Girls’ Director Nova Speaks for CommServ Forum

In a visit sponsored by the Community Service Lecture Series, Development Director of the Lawrence Boys’ and Girls’ Club Radhames Nova spoke on the importance of serving others. Formerly a member of the Lawrence Boys’ Club while in high school, Mr. Nova lived in the Dominican Republic before moving to Massachusetts. After attending Middlebury College and completing a mission with the Peace Corps, Mr. Nova returned to Lawrence to direct fundraising for the club. Mr. Nova explained the importance of the club in his life, stating, “The club did so much for me when I was growing up. I have always wanted to do the same thing for other kids. I feel like I have completed a cycle.” Despite the fact that he regularly puts in twelve-hour days at the club, Mr. Nova confesses to loving his job immensely. “I really look forward to every day,” he stated. “Working for profit alone would not make me happy. I needed to come back and give back.” To keep the club in business, Mr. Nova must raise money himself. Although the Boys’ and Girls’ Club programs annually cost nearly $500 per student, members pay only $10 of that amount. In addition, the club facility is also badly in need of repair, making the scope of Mr. Nova’s job even greater. “Behind every good work is money,” he said. “My job is to make sure it is there.” Mr. Nova was greatly influenced by the three years he spent in South Africa with the Peace Corps. Living with native South Africans in their village, he helped teachers design lesson plans. He also established a shop and a catalog through which the illiterate local women could sell their beadwork to earn enough money to survive. “In the Dominican [Republic], I saw a lot of poverty and need, but in South Africa, it was even worse,” Mr. Nova remarked. He advised the audience, “Don’t forget, there is always somebody who is doing worse than you. You can always give something.” Although Mr. Nova was the only non-African in his village, the experience of being a minority was not new to him. “[The Africans] were fascinated by me and called me white-man, but I didn’t mind,” he said. “I had been the only Latino in my [high school] class and the only boy from the Dominican [Republic] at Middlebury.” In South Africa, Mr. Nova decided that he wanted to dedicate his life to community service. He returned to Lawrence, where he found the Boys’ Club exactly as he had left it and was excited to learn that a Girls’ Club had been built during his absence. In the future, Mr. Nova hopes to return the Dominican Republic with his wife, also a Dominican immigrant, to establish a program similar to the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. He is currently working toward his MBA in order to be better equipped to manage such a program. Mr. Nova expressed his overall views on community service, stating, “You can’t go out and save the world. You have to be more realistic, but you’d be amazed by how much you do just by helping out one kid. You want to see concrete results, but you have to understand how powerful you can be just by showing up.” Community Service coordniator Matt Garza ’04 was enthusiastic about Mr. Nova’s lecture, remarking, “I think he was evidence to the need for education both inside and outside the classroom. If we really want to act to instill changes then we have to be educated as to how best to approach it.” The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America, which strive to provide after-school activities, academic help, and emotional support to inner-city youth, have over 3000 locations in all 50 states.