CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — It isn’t an overstatement to say Sam Banks is a legend in the Champaign-Urbana community.
Wednesday marks his last day in charge of the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club.
But in true Sam Banks fashion, it’s not goodbye because he can’t stop helping kids.
There was a standing ovation when Banks was named the Executive Director of the club nine years ago. He took the struggling club from 75 members back then to 800 before the pandemic.
“To see lives changed, to see young people feeling like they have no value to feeling like they can be an asset to society, to families, that’s really what it’s been all about,” he said.
Before his work at the club, he was the CEO at Cunningham Children’s home for 26 years. That’s almost three decades of inspiring kids.
“Youth may not always have the chance to see someone who looks like them be in a position of leadership and decision making,” Banks said. “I wanted to be that person that those kids in particular and all kids would say ‘I can do that. I can create something for my life like Mr. Banks has.'”
But Banks’ gift wasn’t just getting youth on the right path. It was getting others on board to see the value of supporting them too.
“The work that I’ve been a part of, the success of that, has only been possible because of people who care, people who have a heart for kids, and people who were willing to say there’s some good work at the Boys and Girls Club, there’s some good work happening at the Cunningham Children’s Home and we want to help support that,” said Banks.
Banks may be stepping down but he’s not completely stepping away. He couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to the families of Champaign County.
“I’d love to find way to continue that, in a different way, and maybe at a different pace but to stay close to making an impact on individual lives in some special ways.”
Director of Operations Charles Burton will take over as Executive Director. He’s a familiar face to the kids having been there for eight years.