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Caring Mom Trades in Country Club for Collin Kids

It’s all about the kids for Angela Beth Toles. Already blessed with grandchildren and a tight-knit relationship with her youngest daughter (a teenager, still at home), Toles’ heart still had room to spare. So when she was offered the chance to work at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County back in 2005, she jumped at it. In an inspiring leap from an administrative spot at an exclusive private golf club to the trenches of an agency serving disadvantaged children, Toles has unleashed a current of service and unquenchable energy. DallasChild visited with Toles to find out what informs her calling to provide Collin County kids with a place to go and friends to turn to.

What’s the state of care and services for kids in Collin County today?
Disadvantaged children face more pitfalls than most because of their environment. The families living in lower income neighborhoods are in a vicious cycle. Their parents lived there and the parents before. It is like time has stood still when you enter these areas, and without the BGCCC providing the opportunities to experience the possibilities that are available to them.

Our kids most often come from single parent homes or are being raised by a grandparent due to the parent’s absence. The caregivers do the best they can, but it is all they can do to get through a day. They aren’t able to pay for their kids to play in organized sports, take piano or guitar lessons, learn the different mediums of art or even learn to sew. They don’t always have that nutritious snack or the hearty breakfast most kids get before taking a state-mandated test and aren’t always around to help with homework or meet with a teacher when a child is struggling. When these situations occur, kids become overlooked. They are shoved into special education classes, labeled as learning disabled, and, more importantly, when they come to school hungry and angry from what they may have witnessed the night before, they are labeled as emotionally troubled and cast aside.  

Did you participate in anything like the programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County when you were a child?
Growing up in Anna in the ‘70s, we didn’t have after-school programs. During that time period, kids ran around town until dark and we were all pretty sheltered from drugs and gangs. I had a very fortunate childhood that I wish today’s children could experience.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered over the course of your tenure at BGCCC? I think I am continually surprised at the number of residents who have no idea that there are disadvantaged children in McKinney, Plano and Frisco. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the look of astonishment on the faces of those I am speaking to.

How do you balance a very demanding position with nurturing your own family?
I am at my best when I am juggling 14 different projects both at home and work. It does get nutty, but my family knows that I love what I do and it’s not just a job. It is my life. They appreciate and embrace the BGCCC, as well. Now, this all being said, I realize that I have to take care of my own family first. If I don’t do that, I can’t possibly take care of anyone else’s. I take my daughter to school every morning just to start the day off chatting, and I check in with my grown kids and grandkids every day if at all possible.

Have your own children participated in BGCCC programs?
My boys grew up playing in basketball leagues at the McKinney branch, and my daughter has participated in the summer programs for two years. Torie made some great friends at the club and gained a new respect for how fortunate she is and how much she has.

What advice would you give a local parent who’s beginning a search for afterschool or summer programs for their kids?
Please check out one of our clubs, not only for your younger kids, but also as a place for your teens to work during the summer. I can promise you, your child will have an “oh my gosh” moment when he or she meets kids their own age and gets to know them and what their lives are like. We can and do absolutely change the lives of children ages 6 to 18.