Club director devotes long hours helping youths succeed

HARLINGEN — Building futures, one kid at a time.

That seems to be Sophia Cantu’s mission as director at the LeMoyne Gardens unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen.

“I had always known that I wanted to work with kids,” said Cantu, 26, who seems to maintain a constant presence in multiple parts of the unit at the same time. One minute she’s in the gym, then you walk into the kitchen and there she is again. A minute later she’s manning the desk.

And it’s all for the kids.

She started working with the kids right away about six or seven years ago.

“I knew that I wanted to be a positive outlook for them,” she said. “I enjoy being able to help them become what they want to become in life. They have their own dreams and their own ambitions and I’m just there to help them get to that.”

Sophia tries to make herself available for whatever the kids need. If they want to talk, she’s there. If they need help with homework, she’s there, for any age group. That includes little kids struggling with grammar and math, or high school kids with their own challenges.

“I’m there to help the older ones with their higher education goals; those who want to go to college but aren’t sure how to get there or where’s the best place to start,” she said.

She just finished a program with the kids called “Scratch,” a free programming language and online community where students can create their own interactive stories, games and animation. One little girl named Eva, 9, performed so well she’s caught the attention of the national organization of the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“They want to do a little piece on her,” she said. “It makes me feel really proud of her.”

With so many kids to look after, it’s never a dull moment, and she just keeps trucking.

“I know I can’t help all of them, but if I can just help one, then I know I’m doing my job,” she said.

She would eventually like to work at the national headquarters in Atlanta to develop more programs, but she’s not leaving anytime soon.

“I have too many kids I need to make sure get into high school,” she said.