Kelleºåy is assistant director at the club and 10 years ago started coaching the seventh- and eighth- grade girls basketball team.
“He pushes us hard and yells because he knows we can do and be better,” said Natasha Santana, 17, a junior at Central Catholic High School.
Solina Pascual, 16, also a junior at Central Catholic, agrees.
“He’s a big role model who uses tough love to make us a better person and show us that we can do anything,” Pascual said.
Taking them in
His work with Lawrence’s teenagers goes beyond the four walls of the Boys and Girls Club at 136 Water St.
When brothers Raymond and Carlos Nunez needed a place to stay when their father was deported, Kelley opened his home to them just days after getting married. Kelley and his wife, Sonya, raised Raymond and Carlos for 10 years.
“He has been an absolute blessing to the city of Lawrence,” Carlos Nunez said.
Carlos Nunez, was about to start his freshman year in high school, but did not want to go because he was reading at a second- or third-grade level.
“A week before school started, he encouraged me to go to school which was actually one of the best decisions someone made for me,” said Carlos who attended Central Catholic. “He believed in me and thought I could make it at Central.”
Carlos Nunez said Kelley’s encouragement and mentoring helped him get a 3.5 grade point average. Carlos Nunez went on to study at Endicott College.
“He took us under his wings, helped us mold us into the persons we are today,” he said.
Kelley would make the brothers get up at 4:45 a.m. to work out before heading to school, then going to the club in the afternoon. When they got home, the Nunez brothers would watch television and go to bed.