David Grenier, Senior Vice President—Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch, knows what it feels like to grow up within a broken family. His dad was not a part of his life in any meaningful way and he lost his mother when he was only 17 years old. He knew when he married his wife, Anne, 32 years ago that they would do better by their own children, Alexandra (Alex) and Taylor. And, they did.
David was an active part of his kids’ lives. He always went on their school field trips, became a scout leader, their baseball coach for Little League, helped them with their homework and knew his kids’ teachers. Along the way, he volunteered for a variety of organizations. In 2002, Merrill Lynch recognized his volunteer service with a Lifetime Community Achievement Award. Both of his children earned Graduate/Master’s degrees, and Anne went back to school in her 40’s and obtained her college degree from the University of Washington.
As his children became successful adults, he missed interaction with young people and their “youthful exuberance.” He had been thinking of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound early on, but he was not particularly inspired to just be on another board. He also wanted to volunteer. “We enthusiastically welcomed David as a board member who also wanted to actually volunteer in the Clubs,” said Mark Starnes, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound. David has been a board member for just a few months, but has already personally visited 13 out of our 16 Clubs, said Mark. “David does his research. He learns our staff members by name and works with the kids on their math homework, something that not every volunteer is interested in doing,” added Mark.
He and his wife have been generous donors and attend not only all of the board events, but also many of the Club events and activities. “Every time I visit a Club, I come away amazed,” said David. “The staff members have to do a lot with a little,” he added. He heard the life story of a young person who had received the national Youth of the Year honor. She had been homeless and living on the street across from a Club. When she went inside, she knew it was not something she could afford. Yet, the staff greeted her and said for her to wait and that they could figure something out. She became a member, got homework help, was fed and went on to become the national representative for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She is now pursuing her studies in Arizona in logistics and supply chain. “Her story shook me to my core,” he said.
“I have been very impressed with the board functionality and commitment, the management of the Clubs and the philosophy of doing more with less,” explained David. “This is a philosophy that really resonates with the business community,” he said.
“There is a lot of bad in the world, but great stories come out of the Clubs,” said David. “We must do better with our young people—and we will.”