The Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington has honored recently retired Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Gauger for 16 years of service to the Club.
After retiring from a five-decade career in law enforcement, Gauger recently stepped down as a Wellington club board member. In honor of his long commitment to the club, an award was presented on Friday, Aug. 20, at a ceremony that included club members Gauger consistently supported throughout the years. State Rep. Matt Willhite (D-District 86) presented a $500 check to support the club’s critical programs to mark the occasion.
“I’ve always felt that kids who become successful and are able to overcome obstacles are those who learn to attach themselves to positive role models,” explained Gauger, when describing why he’s passionate about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s mission to ensure that all young people reach their full potential.
As a patrol officer in the 1970s, Gauger learned the value of providing educational and athletic programs to children in disadvantaged areas. In addition, he understood that positive role models are crucial to keeping children out of trouble and allowing them to reach their full potential.
With the support of Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Gauger brought crime prevention programs to the Wellington club and was instrumental in the club’s annual Thanksgiving meal program that provides a free holiday meal to club families. Gauger preferred to engage directly with club members to build lasting relationships and show that police officers are trusted role models.
“I’ve always taken a different approach to law enforcement than others. My goal was never to make arrests or impose my authority in any manner,” Gauger said. “I’ve always believed that good things happen, lives are significantly changed for the better, when law enforcement focuses more on building relationships with the community.”
Due to his service and passion, current Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club board members wanted to honor Gauger with the presentation of a crystal plaque with a picture of club members holding a thank you sign.
“He was a great board member. He would always step up to support the children in the club. We could always rely on him to be there when we needed him most,” Board Member Julie Kime said.
In retirement, Gauger may be stepping away from his daily board duties at the club. Still, he said he will always support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County because of the organization’s ability to change individual lives and the entire community positively.
Founded in 1971, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County is a not-for-profit youth development organization dedicated to promoting the educational, vocational, health, leadership and character of boys and girls in a safe, nurturing environment. The clubs provide more than a safe, fun and constructive alternative to being home alone — they offer a variety of award-winning developmental programs to help youth build skills, self-esteem and values during critical periods of growth. The 17 clubs throughout Palm Beach County serve more than 10,000 children ages 6 to 18. For more information, visit www.bgcpbc.org or call (561) 683-3287.