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Glen Cove Record Pilot • Schools

Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club Shining Stars

Eight-year-old Warren Bennett and 11-year-old Milton Villatoro, both outstanding young men, have been named the Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club June Youth of the Month.  Executive Director Melissa Rhodes knows first-hand what it means to be Youth of the Month.  Once a “club kid” herself, Melissa has been a shining star in the Boys & Girls Club movement now is proud to be celebrating her 5th anniversary as Executive Director of Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club.


“It’s been an absolute privilege to lead this organization over the past five years and to have worked with a dedicated Board of Directors and outstanding staff. To see how far we have come is amazing!” said Rhodes, adding, “I am looking forward to the future as we continue to engage youth in our outcome driven club experience, which will ultimately yield our priority outcomes of academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.”


Good character is clearly a priority for Warren Bennett, a second-grader at Deasy Elementary School who has been a member for three months.  He is quite an astute young man with a strong sense of self and a clear vision of what he plans to achieve for his future.  Warren would like to serve his country and join the Navy when he grows up and is already striving for the excellence expected of a high-ranking naval officer.  “I joined the club because my friends were members but what I especially like about the club is that it is helping me become a better person and be more considerate of others.  I always try to do my best, to listen and to be a good person but the club is helping me improve even more,” said Warren of his experience at the club.  Warren likes math and enjoys playing basketball and soccer.  


Academic success is very important to Milton Villatoro, a sixth-grader at R.M. Finley Middle School, who has been a member of the club for three years.  Milton’s favorite subject is English but he is working to improve his math skills with the help of the club’s Power Hour.  Milton is an avid reader whose favorite books are the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.  Milton plays the violin but is also a natural athlete.  He enjoys playing sports at the club, especially soccer, and can often be found in the club gymnasium honing his soccer skills.  He hopes to become a famous soccer player like Angel di Maria who plays for Real Madrid.  Of his time at the club, Milton said, “I really like being at the club. 

I’ve made a lot of friends here and have a great time but I really appreciate Ms. Desirae (O’Neill), Ms. Breanna (Townsell) and Mr. Matt (Gagliardi), who teach me so many things and make me want to learn more.”


Like Warren, Rhodes first became a member of the Boys & Girls Club at the tender age of 8 and remained a member through her teens.  Upon graduating from high school, she enrolled in the School of Education at New York University where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education with a minor in psychology.  After graduation, Rhodes was hired as the Director of Education at Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club where she was instrumental in developing and expanding the education department, specifically in the technology and English as a Second Language programs.  In 2003, she received the outstanding honor to be a Robert W. Woodruff Fellow, an award bestowed on a club professional who makes a commitment to the Boys & Girls Club Movement and is awarded a scholarship to obtain a master’s degree in a related field. Rhodes received her master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language at Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus.  In 2006, Melissa relocated to Orlando Florida to work with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida organization as the Program Director of their Osceola Branch. From this post, Melissa received several promotions and in June of 2008, Melissa returned to Long Island and accepted the position of Executive Director at Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club at Lincoln House.  


Through Melissa’s vision and leadership over the past five years and her focus on board, staff and resource development, increased marketing and communication and effective facility and program management, Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club is able to serve more than 120 youth and teens each day and is considered one of the leading youth-serving agencies in Glen Cove.  Melissa also serves on the National Board of Directors for the Professional Association of Boys & Girls Clubs and is a member of the Academy of Boys & Girls Club Professionals.  Melissa plays an active role in the Glen Cove community as well. She is the co-chair of the Youth Committee of the SAFE PRIDE Project Coalition, and an active member of the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce and the Nassau County Coalition of Youth Serving Agencies, and a board member of the Glen Cove Inter-Agency Council.  


“I am eager to get more local residents involved at the club through volunteer experiences, annual fundraising initiatives, and community-wide events so that we can expand and improve our services to more youth and teens in Glen Cove,” said Rhodes.  


Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club at Lincoln House has been serving the community since 1903 by providing a safe and caring environment that will inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive and responsible citizens. The Club serves more than 700 youths, ages 6 to 18, in the Glen Cove community with a variety of after school programs in education, sports and recreation, dance, technology and art, all designed to enrich and enhance learning and build self-esteem.  To learn more about Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club and how you can help support the Club, its mission and service to the youth of the Glen Cove community, please call Melissa Rhodes, Executive Director at 516-671-8030 or visit