In 1967, when the Jacksonville, Ala., Boys Club hired J. Mack Reid to teach arts and crafts after his morning college classes, he had no idea the experience would change the course of his life. Reid was studying at Jacksonville State University to be a tax accountant, when a friend suggested he apply for a job at the local Boys Club. Having grown up in the organization himself, he decided to apply.
Although he admits he was hoping for something along the lines of coaching basketball, he took the job.
After just two weeks of working with the children in an old drugstore-turned-club facility, Reid knew he’d found his calling. He promptly changed his major from accounting to business administration and decided he wanted to work for the organization full-time.
Today, after more than 20 years with the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County, Reid is preparing for retirement. He served as president and CEO of the local club from 1989 to 2011, when he stepped down and began working from home in a new fundraising position. After two years in the new role, Reid will fully retire from the organization Aug 1.
Looking back, he says his early years with the club as a child gave him a greater appreciation for the work he would go on to do in Sarasota.
“It really ignited a passion in me,” Reid says about the club. “I didn’t realize the guidance I was getting at the time, but, looking back on it, I realized that’s what I wanted to do for kids.”
At the age of 10, Reid joined the club in his hometown of Gadsden, Ala., at the suggestion of his mother. He says the experience afforded him many opportunities he would never have had, such as the chance to see his first Alabama football game.
“We all piled in this old bus with no windows on a freezing cold November morning,” he says. “The bus ended up breaking down, and we didn’t make it there until after half time. But, it’s experiences like those that I’ll never forget.”
Throughout his career, Reid has had an enormous impact on the Boys and Girls Club. In 1970, he helped establish the newly built facility in Sarasota. Reid left in 1975 to work as director at clubs in Alabama and Georgia. In 1987, he left the club in Albany, Ga., for two years to work as a bank executive, where he “felt like a fish out of water.”
In 1989, he returned to Sarasota to head up the local club, which was in financial trouble at the time. He was instrumental in tapping into his philanthropic contacts to get the club back on its feet.
“Sarasota is a great community, and it rallied around us,” says Reid. “That proved to me that the community feels we deserve a club like this.”
In retirement, Reid, 65, will serve as a consultant for Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the Midwest and Southeast.
Contact Nick Friedman at [email protected].
Throughout his career, J. Mack Reid has made a lasting impression on many young Boys and Girls Club members. Nineteen-year-old Kevin Stalker has been attending the club for 10 years and has been a counselor for three. He was named Youth of the Year in 2012 and says Reid has had a profound influence
on his life.
“He’s my biggest role model,” Stalker says. “He started in the same place I did, and he became CEO. My brother and I never really had a father figure, and he’s been a mentor to my brother. He’s shown me right from wrong by example. I’m going to become CEO one day because of what he taught me.”