By Tim Hauserman
“We help people who are having challenges, whether it is getting medical care, counseling or family support. We are really good at listening to people who come in and helping them identify what they need.”
There is an old saying that applies in Lake Tahoe just as much as anywhere else: If you want something done, talk to a busy person, like Amy Kelley from Crystal Bay, Nev.
Kelley has been the executive director of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center for almost three years now. Before that she worked for the Placer First Five Program. She has also been an active volunteer in the community as a board member of the North Tahoe Boys & Girls Club, board chair for Healthy Kids, Healthy future, in charge of uniforms for AYSO, the soccer organization, which apparently is a big deal since she told me that sometimes she has more than 1,000 uniforms in her living room. She was also on the executive committee for the California Coverage and Health Initiative, and for several years was a volunteer cross-country skiing instructor for Strider Gliders at Tahoe Cross Country.
Kelley has a passion for her job at the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, which provides a host of safety net services to the community.
“We help people who are having challenges, whether it is getting medical care, counseling or family support. We are really good at listening to people who come in and helping them identify what they need,” Kelley said.
The Resource Center can put people in touch with places to get food, parent education and other challenges that they face. The center is about to embark on a new effort to provide help with financial literacy and building assets for families. The organization has discovered that the lack of information about how to save and protect assets perpetuates financial problems.
“We want to move families much further away from risk,” said Kelley. “We want to work on building for their future, and the future of their kids.”
Fostering youth mountain biking
Now with a full-time, fulfilling job and three active kids (Meghan, 17, Kate, 14, and James, 11), she has her hands so full that she has decided she only has time for one volunteer project at a time and her latest focus is on helping in the formation of a new Nevada League for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. The league, which is set to begin in the fall of 2016, will hold mountain biking races for North Tahoe and Truckee area schools. This will allow Tahoe-area kids to compete closer to home, and perhaps, most importantly, race in the fall, instead of the spring when the California League races. No longer will students have to choose between biking and skiing.
“What is exceptional about mountain bike racing is you can start as late as in high school. Everyone is included. Everybody gets to race. It’s like Nordic skiing. You can enjoy individual satisfaction and participating on a team, as well,” said Kelley.
It was when her daughter, Meghan, went to the nationals for mountain biking this summer that Kelley became inspired to help league director Doug Bedient.
“I am just doing my part, I’m not the director, but I bring collaboration skills from the nonprofit sector that will help promote the league,” said Kelley.
In her effort to start the biking program she knows the mission is to be able to compete with the technology that takes the attention of our children, and to get them outside where they can learn all that nature can teach.
“All relations were built outside in the old days,” she said.
Kelley’s journey to Lake Tahoe began in Budapest, Hungary. She was working with the American School in Budapest when she met Jim Kelley, who was traveling through the area. He was introduced to her through several mutual friends in the expat community. She continued to teach before moving here in 1993 and marrying Jim in 1998.
Kelley grew up in Connecticut, and attended Keene State College in New Hampshire, before getting her masters from the college of education at the University of Arizona. She loves to get out on her bike with the rest of the family, or with the LUNA Chix group of women riders, both of which push her to ride hard. She also likes to ski and while she no longer has time for a book club, she has set a goal of reading at least 20 pages from a book each day.
“I think the thing that drives me is, by nature, I’m a community development person, my attraction to volunteer work in the past was that I could help the community. Now, I have a job that allows me to work in community development. It really is my dream job. And, I think the thing that is really great about Tahoe is we are a really small community, we see change, it is measurable. We get things to the finish line,” said Kelley.
For more information on the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, visit northtahoefrc.org or call (530) 546-0952. For more information on the Nevada League for National Interscholastic Cycling Association, visit nevadamtb.org or call (775) 232-9648.