Sanctuary director leaves nonprofit in good hands

Sanctuary director leaves nonprofit in good hands
New Sanctuary on 8th Street Executive Director Rick Cartlidge with outgoing Executive Director Vicky Watkins

The Sanctuary on 8th Street’s annual Shindig, this year themed Heart and Soul, was a special one for Executive Director Vicky Watkins. After 15 years of putting her own heart and soul into making a difference in the lives of Springfield children, Watkins is turning over the reins later this month to Rick Cartlidge, program director and Sanctuary homeschool teacher.

Sanctuary on 8th Street, which will celebrate its 25th year in 2017, began as Urban Ministries of Springfield in 1992 and changed its name when it relocated to the historic post office building in 2001. Under Watkins, the programs have grown to more than 100 children and offer after-school programming, summer camp and a small home school.

“I have always been interested in kids, especially at-risk kids and wanted to provide education and make a difference,” said Watkins, who came out of retirement from mortgage banking to work at the Sanctuary. “I came to the Sanctuary as a board representative for Riverside Presbyterian Church in 2001, then became the director in 2002.”

Cartlidge, of Riverside, was brought on full-time in 2010 as program director. He also serves as the home school teacher. “I am thrilled that Rick will be taking over as executive director when I leave,” said Watkins. “The Sanctuary will be in good hands.”  

Watkins considers the Sanctuary’s greatest success story to be Alonzo Jackson, who began attending after-school programs at age 10. “He is now 24, working at the Sanctuary and attending UNF,” she said. “He is a great role model for our kids, a real team player and is proud to be giving back.”

Jackson is a “Kid Koach” at the Sanctuary, along with Stuart Smith, in the after-school program. He works in the summer camp and also runs the Sanctuary’s Pallets for a Purpose program, creating Adirondack chairs and other rustic items as a way to learn a skill and earn money.

After Watkins retires – for the second time – she plans to volunteer at the Sanctuary. “I will also travel and my dream is to hike the Appalachian Trail,” said the Avondale resident. “And, of course, spend more time with family and friends.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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