ZEBULON — Tristyn Card was dressed as a super librarian, equipped with a cape and a little flair on Superhero Day at the Zebulon Boys & Girls Club last Wednesday.
It was an appropriate outfit for the club’s 27-year-old coordinator of character and leadership development, who in May was recognized for having superhero-like qualities on the job. In only her second year with the club, Card was named the 2013 Part-Time Staff Member of the Year by the North Carolina Area Council of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She was presented the award during a banquet in Charlotte on May 18.
A nomination letter for the award written by Zebulon Club Director Karl Thoma uses words like honest and dependable, skilled and talented to describe Card.
“She’s definitely one of our superheroes,” Thoma said. “She’s professional, hard working and dedicated to the club. She’s a very versatile person. She can organize a play, she can work in the gym, she can run the front counter.
“We’re just very fortunate that she’s at our club.”
Thoma’s letter also referred to Card as the leader young club members tend to gravitate toward. Ten-year-old Shaniya Downey explained why that’s the case after Card joined her and other club members for a friendly game of UNO Wednesday morning.
“She’s very nice and very fun,” Downey said. “She listens and helps us and treats us all the same way. She gives us her time when we need to talk to her.”
A sign was a sign
A native of Pilot, Card says serving others has been impressed on her since her early childhood. She recalls volunteering with her grandmother at adult care facilities as early as age 6.
“Service has always been really important to my family, so it’s always been really important to me,” she said.
Card remembers driving to and from high school and passing the site of the new Zebulon clubhouse, which opened in January 2012, before it was built. When she saw a sign on the vacant lot that read, “Future home of the Zebulon Boys & Girls Club,” she saw a future opportunity of her own.
By the time returned home from college at UNC-Asheville, where she majored in communication and minored in literature and theater, the new clubhouse was complete. She walked straight in the door and told club leaders, “You should hire me.” And they did.
Fitting the part
Since then, Card has managed to keep busy.
She’s taught a creative writing class and formed a drama program for club members – writing her own adaptations of familiar stories for the members to perform. She has also taken a lead role in several of the club’s other educational programs and community events.
The young actors’ performance of “The Jungle Book” last summer was a Boys & Girls Clubs Area Council Award winner. This summer, the club is working on a version of “Alice in Wonderland.” The tentative date for that play is Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.
Through such programs and activities, Card hopes to pass on confidence, courage and a sense of self to the members at the club.
“You’re place in life is where you want to be,” she said. “I hope to leave that with all the kids, and also to have confidence to try new things.”
Card seems to genuinely not understand why she was chosen out of others from across the state for the award. What she does know is showing up at the club every day to write stories, work on plays and make-believe with youth doesn’t feel like work.
“It’s nice to be appreciated, but I’m thinking it’s my job – it’s what I’m supposed to do,” Card said. “I just say, ‘Thank you,’ and go back to work. I’m proud of the work I do.”