Stout alumnus advances her career while making a difference

By Alyssa Rupp —

New to the area as of October 2014, The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley decided to locate one of their four branch centers in Menomonie: a perfect opportunity to link classroom experience with a life-long passion. This was exactly the case for a recent 2011 University of Wisconsin–Stout graduate, Ashley Demuth who majored in vocational rehabilitation with a concentration in independent living and a focus on social work.

“I knew I wanted to work with a non-profit, and The Boys & Girls Club in Eau Claire (the club’s corporate office location) was hiring for an office manager, so I thought it was a good foot in the door,” Demuth explains.

Ashley knew from an early age that improving the lives of others and helping them succeed in the academic and professional world was something she wanted to pursue seriously because she spent her childhood growing up in some of the same conditions many children that use the program struggle with daily.

“I grew up in a not-so-great home situation in a terrible neighborhood. We actually had a lot of programs and school clubs available, and my family used those as a resource.”

Once established in the system, Demuth was further hired as the Community Relations Coordinator.

“It was a really great fit because being in the Menomonie community, being a Stout alumni and kind of knowing what the community is looking for, it fell into place.”

Demuth also notes that the knowledge gained during her time at Stout was a big factor in determining her success.

“My education really helps because we deal with quite a few youth that have challenges, so being able to have that experience and a handle those situations definitely had a huge impact on my success,” Demuth said.

Now serving as the Center Director, Demuth tends to nearly anything that needs attention, whether it’s administration, working with donors or interacting with the kids directly.

The Boys & Girls Club has transformed its Menomonie location into a safe, structured and enjoyable place where kids in grades 3 through 5 can come to do homework, let off some energy in the gym or simply read a book on a comfy couch. With 40 different program offerings, kids experience everything from homework help to learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Unique to the Menomonie Boys & Girls Club is the location and its array of state-of-the-art technology that allow students and staff to thrive. The club operates out of River Heights Elementary School located in Menomonie itself, so making good use of the school’s gym space and classrooms is one of the greatest assets. This is because the club has access to the school’s Mac desktop computers, smartboards and projectors, which only enhances the children’s learning potential, according to Demuth.

Of course, such a large operation has to be supported by a large, generous staff, both volunteer and donor-based, in order to function effectively.

“I could not do this without my staff,” Demuth noted. “Josh Sales, who is also a Stout alumnus (2012 graduate with a degree in human development and family studies) works as the Program Coordinator and we have a part-time membership coordinator as well as three AmeriCorps members who are with the kids all the time.”

“Put in the time, put in the effort and it will pay off.  If you have an interest in something, shadow it or ask for more information; just don’t give up on it,” explains Demuth, giving helpful advice to current Stout students pursuing similar fields.

For more information on The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley, or the Menomonie location specifically, you can visit cvclubs.org or call 715-233-2540.

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