Boys and Girls Club hails volunteer 'Grandpa Nate'

Friday , April 11, 2014 - 2:23 PM

Rachel Trotter, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

ROY — Need a van fixed, a pool cue repaired or a child helped with homework? No problem, just ask Nathan Bryan, or “Grandpa Nate” as he is called by everyone at the Boys and Girls Club.

Bryan has been volunteering at the club as well as at Horace Mann Elementary in Ogden for about 7 years. He started volunteering when he was having problems with his back and was no longer able to drive his commercial truck. He started volunteering through the Foster Grandparent Program in Weber County, but now his volunteer hours far exceed many — he volunteers about 40 hours per week.

He likes to stay busy and the people he helps are glad for that.

“He can do everything I can’t,” said Roy center director Chelsea Wessman.

Because of his truck-driving career, Bryan oversees the fleet of vehicles for the club and picks up the kids after school on the bus and brings them to the center. The club acquired some vans in February and Bryan helped them find the best deal for the vans and got them in working order by installing seat belts and finding mechanics to make major repairs. He has kept his commercial driver’s license so he can help in that way.

He also keeps things in good repair around the club too.

“The game room is basically his,” Wessman said with a smile as she pointed toward the room filled with pool tables, foosball and other various gaming supplies. “He keeps all of our things in working order.”

Shelby Sundwall, one of the staff, couldn’t say enough good about Bryan.

“He loves to play pool so he started teaching the kids how to do it and how to do it well,” Sundwall said.

“We all call him Grandpa or Grandpa Nate. His name is just ‘grandpa’ in my phone,” she said with a laugh. “He looks like a grandpa too.”

Bryan, who would not reveal his age, has white hair with a big white beard and a handlebar mustache.

“His laugh is really the best,” Sundwall said. “We all love to hear him laugh because it’s just so cute and so him.”

As Bryan worked with 7-year-old Aubreyana Guerroro, he did laugh as she filled out her homework and make funny comments. She and her sister, Anastasia, like working with Bryan because he helps them complete their homework so they don’t have to worry about it when they get home. Aubreyana talked about the details of homework Bryan does with her often.

“It’s just good. With math, he teaches me how to ungroup,” Aubreyana said with a smile as she looked at Bryan.

Bryan can’t really say what he likes best about his volunteer time, he just likes it all.

“I just like to stay busy,” he said.

And he has done just that. Last June he received a service award for 18,000 hours of service since he started working with the youth.

Wessman said Bryan has been trained through the Foster Grandparent Program on how to tutor in the various subjects and so he is good at what he does.

Bryan sets goals with his students with tutoring as well. With his students at Horace Mann, he wants to see them progress by at least 50 more words in their reading through the course of the year. “They know they can come to me if they need anything,” Bryan said of the kids he works with. Bryan sees no end in sight to his volunteer time either.

“As long as they can use me I will be here.”

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