Director of Bates Boys & Girls Club selected as Woodruff Fellow
Franchaze "Frankie" Waters was one of four selected nationwide

By Wendi Winters
Photos By Joshua McKerrow
September 10, 2014

The awestruck 5-year-old who looked up at towering adult mentors at the Boys & Girls Club in Annapolis Gardens in 1991 is now the person youngsters look up to.  And her commitment to the Boys & Girls Clubs has been recognized with a fellowship to support further study. 

Franchaze "Frankie" Waters, 27, is now the director of the Wiley H. Bates Boys & Girls Club. Until May, she was the program director at the Annapolis Gardens club, to which she used to belong. 

"I brought Franchaze over here shortly after I arrived," said Steven M. Cornette, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. "There is no one with more dedication and will to be successful." Last month, Waters found out she had been picked as a Woodruff Fellow, one of the four selected nationwide this year. The Robert W. Woodruff Graduate Program and Internship Fellowship, sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, was established in 1975 to further the leadership skills of club staff members who had already made major contributions. 

As a child living in the Berkshire community, Waters saw the Annapolis Gardens club as an opportunity to socialize with friends, learn to swim and develop leadership skills. A 2004 graduate of Annapolis High School, Waters earned an associate degree in 2007 from Montgomery College-Rockville and a bachelor's degree in politics from St. Andrew's University in North Carolina in 2010. When she was attending college, she returned to the area Boys & Girls Clubs as a summer basketball coach. 

The Woodruff Fellowship program has given Waters a $10,000 scholarship for online study at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she is working toward a master's degree in executive leadership. She said she has made a two-year commitment to continue full-time work at a Boys & Girls Club. Waters' father, Michael Waters Sr., died when she was 11. She has a 28-year-old brother, Michael Waters Jr., and a sister, Jessica Tongue, 24, who is now the junior staff coordinator at the Bates Boys & Girls Club. Her mother, April Abel, works for the state as a director for Medicaid and Medicare Rehabilitation. 

Waters said Boys & Girls Club members and staff were her second family when she was growing up. "I'm coming full circle," she said. Waters also coaches the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis basketball team. She said that she wanted to play basketball at a professional level ever since she was in elementary school and saw a game with the Washington Mystics of the Women's National Basketball Association. Her years of playing in the clubs, Waters said, helped her become captain and MVP of the Montgomery College basketball team. That, in turn, led to an academic and athletic scholarship to play Division II basketball at St. Andrew's, where she was a point guard. At St. Andrew's she earned a scholarship to participate in a semester-long study-abroad program in at Capital Normal University in Beijing. "Here or in Beijing," Waters said, "parents want the same things for their kids: the opportunity to go to school and college and get a good job." 

Now, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, she hopes to encourage more parents to sign up for programs. The Annapolis Gardens club has about 40 members; the one at Bates 70 to 100 regulars. Waters hopes to double those numbers before May. "I am really passionate about my job and what I do. Boys & Girls Clubs isn't just an organization, it's a movement."  
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