Everyday Evangelist: Timmons wants to make difference in kids’ lives
By Lisa Biedenbach
For The Catholic Telegraph
It’s all about kids when you talk with Annie Timmons. She lives and breathes kids and works and plays with kids to help them thrive at school and in everyday life and become the adults that God means them to be.
Timmons, executor director of Friars Club and a health and physical education teacher at St. Boniface, has dedicated most of her adult life to making a difference in the lives of inner-city children. A child of the inner-city who grew up poor, Timmons relates to the hundreds of children she coaches and teaches, some of whom come to school with empty bellies, little sense of being loved, and with almost no family encouragement to dream of what the future could be for them.
Timmons runs sports programs in six of the eight Catholic Inner-city Schools Education (CISE) schools.
As executive director of the “virtual” Friars Club, Timmons explains that although the physical facility called Friars Club was demolished in 2011, the club has continued to operate sports programs for children while planning and building a new facility on the grounds of Roger Bacon High School in St. Bernard. The new Friars Club should open in summer 2014.
“We’ve been renting gyms all over the city for years, and it will be great to have a new 4-court gym (lined for basketball and volleyball) so that there is more stability to the program. Our biggest challenge right now with our sports programs is transportation — just getting the kids from schools to gyms and back home again. It’s expensive,” Timmons said, and something the CISE board is working on. “Today there are fewer parents available and involved to help with transportation than years ago. One of my big dreams is to get a Friars Club bus.”
In addition to handling responsibilities for Friars Club fundraising, development, staff supervision, new-facility construction, and budgeting, Timmons is writing a grant that will allow the Friars Club to establish a girls’ grade school volleyball program.
“There’s currently no volleyball program for young girls — third through seventh grades — in Cincinnati’s inner city. Now when inner-city girls start playing volleyball in seventh grade, they can’t compete well with girls from suburban schools who have been playing for more years. I want to begin teaching volleyball skills early on so that our Friars Club players will be confident on the court when they play other teams,” Timmons said.
A graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health, Timmons has worked for Friars Club since 1978 when she was a student at Our Lady of Angels High School. She wanted to be a professional volleyball player, but a knee injury squashed that dream.
“I was tall and always strong and so volleyball came easily to me. Once I couldn’t play any longer, I began officiating at basketball games and could have been a referee for professional sports. Eventually I moved to organizing teams and leagues and programs and that is where my heart is now,” she said.
During the school year she moves from one CISE school to another on different days of the week. Her busy schedule keeps her moving from morning into evening. Her husband of 16 years, Lannis Timmons, a retired Cincinnati Public School high school teacher and basketball coach, helps her at times with coaching.
“I love what I do,” Annie Timmons said. “I had so much nurturing from teachers and religious sisters and a priest when I was young, and I know that is what made the difference in my life. I want to make a difference in kids’ lives, too — by offering them a safe activity, great sports teams, caring mentors, discipline, a kind word, and a smile. I’ll do anything I can to keep kids off the streets and help ensure that they don’t need treatment for abuse of some kind.
“When you grow up poor, there is no one to teach you what you need to do to get where you want to go — to teach you life lessons of self-discipline, tolerance of others, acceptance of one’s gifts and limitations, that you can’t always get what you want, and that life is sometimes unfair,” she said. “I want Friars Club to be a place of kindness, generosity, and love where kids can learn what they need to know.”
This Everyday Evangelist feature originally appeared in the February 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.