General Anderson invigorated by member children at Boys & Girls Club she now leads

LACONIA — With a sparkle in her eye and smile on her lips, Pat Anderson, who is now serving as interim executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region, remarked "I'm having lots of fun."

A member of the board of directors, Anderson stepped into the shoes left by the departure of Cheryl Avery. Anderson that the board has begun contemplating the process for hiring a permanent successor, but has not set a timetable for beginning a search or making an appointment.

Anderson, who was born in Indiana, spent her teens in West Virginia and graduated from high school in North Carolina likes to say she's from Wisconsin. "My parents are from Wisconsin and I actually lived there," she said. "I think of myself as from the Midwest." After a year as a grade school teacher, Anderson went to nursing school and at 33 joined the United States Army, where she rose to the rank of brigadier general.

During the Gulf Wa of 1900-1991 in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait, she was chief nurse at the 410th Evacuation Hospital in Saudi Arabia during operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. A fan of "Mash," she confessed she found herself in the role of Hot Lips Houlihan and said that her experience enriched her appreciation of the popular television series, particularly the role of humor in very trying circumstances.

Now retired, Anderson and her husbands settled in Laconia in 2012 and she at once became engaged in the life of the community. She serves as president of the Laconia Rotary Club and, as a painter, is a member of the Lakes Region Art Association. Having served on the board of directors of Boys & Girls Club that served 1,700 children in North Carolina, she found the one located here a perfect fit. "Those who don't volunteer are really missing out," she said. "It keeps you alive and young."

Anderson dismissed any suggestion of being a caretaker, saying "we've got a big job to do." In particular, she has set herself the task of strengthening what she called the "infrastructure" of the organization by refining the policies and procedures. She said that the club is a relatively young organization and her intention is to have a sound administrative structure in place before the transition to new leadership. Likewise, she said she would be seeking to put the club on a sound financial footing, explaining that while the capital campaign has been successful the operating budget needs shoring up.

Anderson indicated that she does not intend to simply maintain existing activities and programs. "We'll do whatever we can," she remarked, hinting that the club may expand its offerings.

Despite her military experience, Anderson admitted that when it comes to managing the children she relies on her staff. "They are terrific," she said. "If I tried to keep order, I don't know that I could, but these kids are just wonderful with the children."

Asked if she will apply when the position of executive director is advertised, Anderson said "I don't know, but one never knows what the future may bring."