From Club Kid to Club Legend

As Club supporters reading this article, most of you are probably somewhat familiar with Eric Pantojas by now. Mr. Eric, as he is fondly known by our Club youth, was presented with the Boys & Girls Club’s prestigious Alumni of the Year award back in May. Our Club family is so proud of him and we were all excited to surprise him with this well-deserved honor! You see, Eric is anything but ordinary to us. In fact, he’s become sort of a legend in our eyes, though he is far too modest to claim that title.

In short, Eric pretty much grew up at the Boys & Girls Club. The youngest of five kids with wonderful hard-working parents, he started attending with his older siblings when he just 6 years old, as soon as the Club opened its doors in the Fond du Lac community. Eric began working for the Club as a program aide when he was in high school at St. Mary’s Springs Academy and was named the Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year in 2007-08. After graduating high school, Eric and his wife Ashley started a family of their own (their kids are now Club members too!). As a young new father, he took a job with Baker Cheese (key supporters of the Club) to provide for his growing family and was employed there for nearly a decade while also pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in psychology at UW-Milwaukee.

Though his schedule was busy, Eric decided to come back to the Club as a part-time program staff and has been extremely dedicated to his role as the Teen Healthy Lifestyles Coordinator for the past 4+ years. After earning his psychology degree, he was accepted into the Clinical Mental Health Counseling masters program at UW-Oshkosh, and recently graduated with his masters degree. We are proud to announce that Eric has accepted a full-time position with Agnesian HealthCare, a member of SSM Health as a Child & Adult Psychotherapist. We couldn’t be happier for Eric, and though he will be deeply missed as a staff member, we are grateful for the time and commitment he has given to our Boys & Girls Club family, and most importantly, to our youth.

Today is Eric’s last official day as an employee of our Boys  & Girls Club, so we asked him a few questions regarding his experience as both a Club kid back in the day and a member of our staff team over the past several years…

What made you excited to spend time at the Club when you were a kid?

“I was happy that my friends and family were at Club when I attended. We learned how to play sports here and I built bonds with friends that I still have today.”

What is your all-time favorite memory at the Club?

“Going to Washington D.C. because the whole experience was amazing and the connections I was able to build with the kids was a blessing.”

What is the most valuable lesson you learned at the Club?

“Every day is a new day. No matter what happens at Club with a teen that is struggling or having a bad day, the next day is a new start. These new starts help strengthen relationships.”

Describe what the Club has meant to you in three (3) words.

“Reach my potential.”

Tell us about a mentor/role model at the Club who inspired you.

“Dan Hebel. He kept me on track and supported me in the best way that he could. To this day, I know that I have him in my corner. If I need anything, I know I could go to him.”

How did the Club impact your future?

“Club helped me to really find that passion/spark for counseling. I was able to experience the relationships firsthand and really feel the impact that we can have on these kids.”

Any additional thoughts you’d like to share?

“It’s bittersweet to be moving on to the next part of my career. I will always cherish everything that I have built, learned, and accomplished at Club. I know that I will always have my Club family to support me.”

We wish Eric all the best in his exciting new endeavor and look forward to watching him grow in his new career role, as we continue to do whatever it takes to help build great futures for all youth. For more information about our Club programs, click or tap HERE.