By Leila Dycus, Intern
The Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club has hired a new director, Gari Santis, who started in his position at the club Monday.
“I’m still a young guy, and I don’t act my age when dealing with students, I understand them, I think. They keep me entertained, you’ve get 125 different personalities and they just keep you entertained,” said Santis.
Although he’s been considered a Madisonian in his previous job – that’s Madison, Fla. – he liked the idea of Madison, Ga. because it is much like its Floridian sister city that he is accustomed to.
“Before this I was a unit director in Madison, Fla. I did that for three years. Before that I was a team leader, a head team leader, and a program director with Lead America,” said Santis.
The Lead America programs that Santis ran were at North Georgia College where he worked on conferences for students that were interested in the military. Santis discussed how his work at Lead America has prepared him for his new role as director at Boys & Girls Club here in Madison:
“We’d run different exercises with them. They’d learn squad tactics, platoon tactics, and then their simulation was actual platoon on platoon paintball fight,” described Santis.
He then, through Lead America, worked the healthcare medicine conferences at Georgetown University. This conference ended in a simulation where students had a case that they were assigned to starting with meeting the patient and ending in finding out what was wrong with the patient.
“I did my three years down there and then I wanted to come back home to Georgia,” said Gari.
Santis graduated from The University of North Georgia with a degree in criminal justice. However, Gari’s heart has always been in Boys & Girls Club and he knew that he wanted to work for another one of their clubs.
“Life is tough, I guess, and I think these kids have an entitlement mentality and they’ve got to understand, you know; the world cares very little about you as a person, and it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there,” said Santis.
Santis has not only been employed by Boys & Girls Club, but also volunteered and was, as a child, a participant in Boys & Girls Clubs. He’s particularly excited about Morgan County.
“This community is really supportive…I think donations make up 90 percent of BGC budget and the rest comes from state and BGC national,” said Santis.
“I have to make sure we are utilizing every donors dollar to the best of our capability,” he added.