Five finalists have been chosen as part of the 2013 Maytag Dependable Leader Awards, and one of them can be found in the heart of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.
His name is Steve Hixson, or “Papaw” depending on who is doing the talking. He is the immediate past president of the BGCC board and current mentor to board president Shane Lawson.
Now it is up to America to determine who will be the champion. The finalists come from Florida, California, Arkansas and Cleveland.
Anyone can vote for their pick on a daily basis by going to www.bgca.org/Maytag. Videos next to the finalists give voters a look into who is in the running.
The process is made easy by clicking on the “vote” button next to each video. A window will pop up requesting the user to sign in to Facebook. Maytag will then request to view each voter’s public profile and friend list. Once the sign-in is complete a thank-you note will pop up explaining the relationship between Maytag and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Director of BGCC Charlie Sutton said he can describe Hixson’s impact on the local kid-centered nonprofit in one word: catalytic.
“The biggest challenge the [club] faced was having adequate revenue streams so that we weren’t overdependent on any one stream,” Sutton said. “He has come up with a number of ideas over time to help us with that area, especially when it comes to special events.”
The veteran board member has headed events since 2005, including the annual Cash for Kids fundraiser. His idea was to sell 200 tickets for $500 a piece. When others balked, Sutton said Hixson sold 80 tickets on his own. The event has now become the largest fundraiser for the Cleveland clubs.
Now Hixson has another opportunity to pour into the clubs. Whoever is chosen as the award recipient will have $20,000 donated to the club they represent.
Sutton said the money would go a long way to equipping the members and staff with STEM training, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
A part of the training ensures there are enough staff skilled in how to work items like robots, or launch rockets.
“We want to be able to give an iPad to any [member of the] staff and have them run a program. There is a huge training element that goes along with this,” Sutton said. “We want to position ourselves to compete, too, in the future, with robotic competitions. There is so much we can do to prepare our kids for the modern work environment in Bradley and Hamilton counties.”
Sutton said Hixson is also a huge proponent of the annual Youth of the Year competition.
“He is a big marshmallow,” Sutton said. “He just melted and cried and sobbed. Every year it is the same thing. You look over at him and he is sobbing when he hears those stories.”
Members across the six clubs know Hixson as everything from “Papaw” to “Grandpa.” The video next to Hixson’s name on the voting site show kids holding up building blocks with descriptives of Hixson. Member Richard Burke can be heard throughout the video voicing his approval for Hixson.
“He has served the clubs and he has also helped me in many ways,” Burke said. “He has been there for me and I know him as my Papaw. There were times in my life when I didn’t have any man in my life to teach me what I needed to know, and you stepped up as a grandfather to me and led me on the right path.”
BGCC director of operations Derek Kinsey said Hixson is an extremely active board member.
“He cares about what you are doing and he has an opinion and suggestions and resources and connections with people,” Kinsey said. “He is always very supportive of the kids. He is just very involved.”