They say that optimism and enthusiasm is contagious. Well, in the case of Ben Fiscus ’10, optimism is at the forefront of his attitude and outlook on life. Ben grew up in Grants Pass, the son of a law enforcement officer. He was around police all the time as a youngster and knew that someday, that would be his route in life as well.
After graduating from Grants Pass High School, Ben had applied at both WOU and SOU. But it was SOU’s campus in a small, quaint town with a nice vibe that attracted him most along with the outstanding criminal justice/criminology program that has produced some amazing law enforcement officers, police chiefs and probation and parole officers. “Making the decision to stay close to home was easy once I visited campus and met with professors. Small class sizes and having close student/teacher relationships at SOU was very attractive to me, even though I grew up just forty-five minutes away,” said Ben.
Ben still believed he would move into law enforcement, even as he pushed through his basic courses. But it was a Criminal Justice Theories course with Dr. Alison Burke, where a light bulb went off for him, particularly a lesson on social bonds theory. He grew to admire Dr. Burke and spent time asking questions and debating her during office hours. Dr. Burke was on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley and eventually, Ben was compelled to pursue an internship with them in Talent because of her influence. “Working with kids was so much fun and ultra-positive and I looked forward to my hours with them and wanted more time with them,” he said. The experience changed his attitude and outlook forever, leading to a senior capstone on how philanthropy could help reduce juvenile crime in Jackson County.
When Ben had the opportunity to pursue an AmeriCorps position through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, he made the move from Oregon and became a Volunteer Coordinator there. He loved the opportunity to coach boys’ football, including a game in front of 75,000 people at Mile High Stadium. Though his AmeriCorps position eventually ended, he was hooked for life making a difference in young peoples’ lives. He did financial consulting for the next three years but volunteered three days per week at the Boys & Girls Clubs, which eventually led to him being recruited by the Executive Director there as a fundraiser.
Ben is now the Director of Leadership Giving for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, helping to raise $17 million annually for their diverse programs. “Fundraising isn’t necessarily about asking for money. It’s about telling our story and helping young people. I have the best job in the world and it’s so pleasing and gratifying to see boys whom I coached, grow up to be strong men of character.” Now there’s a contagious attitude and outlook.
Learn more: Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver