5 Questions For…

Story by Sara McAninch // Photography by Rachel McCarver
When she’s not working at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Johnson County, Natalie Fellure is usually at a sporting event for one of her two sons, or she’s attending a music festival.
“I spend my life on a field or in a gym,” says the mother of Kellen (14) and Colin (12).
In addition to watching her sons’ football games and wrestling matches, Fellure enjoys concerts and festivals when she has the time.
“I did just attend my sixteenth Willie Nelson concert. He’s my favorite,” she says. “I started seeing him in concert as a teenager.”
Fellure and Kyle, her husband of almost 15 years, are “big country and bluegrass listeners.” They also like tunes from the 1990s “because that’s our decade,” she says.
Originally from Franklin, Indiana, Fellure moved around a lot growing up because her father was a preacher. She attended college in Nashville, Tennessee and then came back to Franklin after graduation because it was home base. After working at a job in Indianapolis, she eventually landed at Boys & Girls Clubs of Johnson County.
What is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Johnson County? Why is it important to the community and its children?
The mission of the organization is to enable all youth to become productive citizens. Our goal is to be a positive place for them to learn how to give back to the community, get along with others, work in small and large groups through fun, engaging activities, and to provide a safe place for them while their parents have work and other things to do. It’s important because we’re providing an inexpensive, fun and safe place for kids to be. My boys came here when they were little because I knew they were safe and would have fun while I was at work.
In 2018 we changed our name from Boys & Girls Club of Franklin to Boys & Girls Club of Johnson County. It was changed because we serve kids county-wide. We’re located in Franklin, but we provide services to kids from Edinburgh, Greenwood and other areas of the county.
Our organization has a place for every child. The greatest thing about it is that it’s inexpensive because of the generosity of our donors and partners; we can keep our fees low because of them.
My favorite thing to see here is the kids playing and interacting. I can have the richest kid in the county playing with the kid who sleeps in a tent, and they don’t know it; they are just kids playing with each other. Here the socioeconomic background, gender or identity doesn’t matter — they’re just playing together. We’re here to serve all kids, and we’re always looking for ways to support them.
Being a not-for-profit, we try to keep the fees low for the parents. Our summer fees this year were only $900 for the entire season, which is a 10-week program. Our after-school program costs $125 per semester. To keep dues down, we rely on the generosity of others, so we don’t have to float that cost to the parents.
We’re always looking for board and committee members, as well as volunteers to help at the club or at events and fundraisers. We look for partnerships with other organizations to find ways to service as many kids as we can. Sponsorships and donations are also appreciated.
What do you do in your role as executive director?
It depends on the hour. I primarily oversee all operations and fundraising. I write grants and make sure the bills and our employees are paid. While I have a board of directors to provide guidance and assistance, the day-to-day responsibilities fall on me. I also fill in other roles as needed. For example, two weeks ago I went to the pool with kids because we needed another adult to be there with them.
What are the some of the more challenging and rewarding aspects of the organization’s work?
Right now, our biggest challenge is staffing. We’ve had a great staff for the summer, we’re short people, especially for after-school care. We took over Cub Care, which is the Franklin Schools before- and after-school program. We have six additional buildings to staff as a result.
The most rewarding aspect of this work is seeing the impact on the children. An example is seeing a kid we worked with on controlling his emotions and then seeing him be able to do it on his own — that’s rewarding. When we know a child has had a tough day at school, being able to see and interact with them after is a reward.
A large portion of what the organization offers is adult-to-child mentoring. Why is mentoring — especially of kids and youth — so important?
Families look so different: two-parent households, single parent ones, foster or homeless ones, for example. Regardless of the family structure, kids need to see other adults make positive impacts in their lives. They need to know that outside their family unit they have adults they can go to who are safe and knowledgeable and can help guide them.
Mentors can affect so much more outside of the family unit. When we train our staff to be mentors and not just childcare workers, it can have an impact on the kids. Our staff goes through training on how to talk through things going on in the life of the child, how to deal with conflict, and how to help the kid deal with it.
What do you love about living and working on the southside?
I love Franklin and the small-town feel. Even with all the new things coming, it’s still exciting and a great place to raise a family. It’s a joke in my house that I don’t go north of Whiteland Road, and I don’t have to because everything I need is right here.

To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Johnson County, and how you can get involved and/or donate, go to https://www.bgcf.net/. More information about the national Boys & Girls Clubs organization is available at https://www.bgca.org/.