Spanish language helps Boys & Girls Club director in Raleigh relate to students

Under the leadership of Pepe Caudillo, the Boys & Girls Club Brentwood Club in Raleigh has grown by about five times since it opened in 2006.

Caudillo, the club director, has been there from the beginning.

"He always likes to interact with kids," said Boys & Girls Club member Madison Cordova, 10. "He always just makes us laugh."

"Mostly the staff are supposed to give you quizzes and help you with your homework but he just does it without you having to tell him," said 8-year-old Boys & Girls Club member Cameron Kingsberry.

But Caudillo realizes it's about more than giving kids a safe place to go after school.

"We want to raise kids that represent good assets to the community," Caudillo said.

Caudillo estimates 80 percent of children who go to the club are Latino.

He was born in Mexico City and immigrated to the Raleigh area 22 years ago. His experience helps him relate to his Spanish-speaking students and parents.

"I am an immigrant so I have been living some of the things that other immigrants have lived so I understand how a language barrier can affect your life," Caudillo said.

"There's a lot of Spanish speakers so sometimes when somebody needs help with homework or something since they only speak Spanish he can go over there and help them by helping translate," said 10-year-old Boys & Girls Club member Martha Santoyo.

Caudillo realizes many see him as a role model and that he's helping create others.

"You have a face or group of faces that can constantly pass a message about being a good Hispanic person, a good Latino person in the community," Caudillo said. "You make sure that they understand by doing that you can spread that to other people, including non-Latinos so that we will have a good chance of having a good community tomorrow."
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