Boys & Girls Club’s Dave Bauer stepping down to focus on gym

Audrey Gomez

After leading a local drive to fund the Sweet Home branch of the Boys & Girls Club of the South Santiam over the past few months, Dave Bauer is stepping down from his role as branch director at the end of May.

“It was a difficult decision,” Bauer said.

Bauer has been the manager and one of the owners of Steelhead Strength and Fitness for nine years. He took the Boys & Girls Club position last May.

“I’m doing them both, currently, but both of them are still lacking,” Bauer said on May 21. “My business is also part of a partnership and because I am the manager it is my responsibility. It’s also a community service we provide. I just have to turn my focus back toward my business which, unfortunately, means I have to stop working here.”

In his absence from the gym, which Bauer, his wife Vicki and other partners built from the ground up in a vacant former hardware store, Steelhead Fitness did not come close to meeting its financial goals, Bauer said.

“The first quarter of a fitness club is usually the most profitable because of New Year’s resolutions, so for January to be flat wasn’t good and February actually, was in the red.”

That was an indicator that he needed to spend more time working at Steelhead, he said.

“But at that point in time the Boys & Girls Club was at their greatest financial crisis,” Bauer said. “I did not want to turn my attention away from the Boys & Girls Club.”

Bauer didn’t mention the trouble at the fitness center because he wanted to keep focused on meeting the financial goals for the Boys & Girls Club.

“That was my primary focus and I was going to keep it that way and we made both our first and second goals ahead of schedule back in April,” he said.

Though Bauer will no longer be the director of the Sweet Home club, he will continue to contribute his time to help it succeed.

He still plans to be involved in the advisory council which has been formed to provide a better link between the community and the club, he said. He also hopes to complete the fund-raising campaign, to which the Sweet Home community has responded by exceeding target goals thus far in an effort to raise $120,000 to get the local branch back on a solid financial footing.

“With my exit, I still want to be involved with the Boys & Girls Club so I will hold a seat on the council,” Bauer said. “I hope to accomplish the continuation of getting financial support.”

He is focusing on the monthly donor campaign “It Just Takes One” to achieve the next financial goal of the club: $40,000 by the end of June.

“We’re going to bring that to our sporting events,” Bauer said. “We’re also bringing this to our business community, not just on a business level, but on a staff and employee level.”

“The Sweet Home community has stepped up and taken ownership of their finances. We still have a ways to go,” he added.

In a May 12 Facebook post on the club’s page, Executive Director Kris Latimer said Bauer’s “leadership has helped us begin to stabilize support for the Sweet Home operation, to implement a strong, purposeful program model, and to be more involved in the community.”

Bauer said he believes the changes they have made over the past year have been positive.

Adding structure to the after-school program is one of those.

“It was my primary goal when I started,” said Bauer, who engineered a move to use “trained youth development professionals” to lead a “proactive” rather than “reactive” program. Activities in the after-school program include supervised homework help and computer access opportunities, games and other creative and educational activities, and physical activity. Participants are encouraged to set and meet goals, such as completing tasks, which result in rewards.

“The idea when I came in, was to improve the program and then there was an underlying issue with athletics that came to the surface and after about six months of trying to figure out, made some changes there,” Bauer said.

A new athletic director, Mike Carpenter, started on May 1.

“We have a baseball board, which is the first of our athletics board,” Bauer said. “We’ll also have boards for our football program and our basketball program. It just puts more heads in the game and more hands in the project.”

Latimer is thankful that Bauer joined the Boys & Girls Club when he did.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today, financially, if it hadn’t been for Dave’s passion for the community,” Latimer said. “(He) really did a job that, when we hired him, wasn’t in the job description.”

Bauer said he has loved being part of the Boys & Girls Club and seeing the community come together and make it happen.

“It’s hard to leave but I feel good about the positon that the Boys & Girls Club is in right now,” Bauer said. “I feel like the community is much more aware of the (club) now and are much more behind the Boys & Girls Club. I just want to see them step up and help out financially and I’m going to continue to drive that to see that happen.”

He has also enjoyed working with Latimer and the staff.

“The dedication here is amazing. I can’t say enough good stuff about that. So it’s going to be hard to leave that environment,” Bauer said.

The senior branch director position description is listed at For more information, or to apply, contact Kris Latimer at [email protected].