Boomerangs return when thrown properly, and the Boomerang program helps kids suspended from school return in better shape than they were before.

This week’s Hometown Hero is Tami Pfeifer, the executive director of Boomerang. With a background in social work and helping youth achieve their full potential, Pfeifer is “enthusiastic, dynamic, full of ideas and one of those people that never says never,” says Fred Black. A graduate of UNC with a degree in social work and resident of Hillsborough, Pfeifer was one of the original founders of Boomerang.

What began as a small alternative space for suspended students to do the schoolwork they were missing and receive support through meaningful relationships with mentors has evolved into something greater. Transforming after a 10-year collaboration between Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools, Orange County schools and the Chapel Hill/Carrboro YMCA (now part of YMCA of the Triangle), Boomerang is now its own independent non-profit – 501(c)3, to be exact – entity.

With a mission to “inspire youth to bounce back from challenges and move towards positive change,” Boomerang has been helping the youth of our community receive the support they need in their academic and personal lives, to cope with the adversity and obstacles between them and a life of positive interactions with the world around them. Since 2006, Boomerang has served more than 2,500 children in 14 public middle and high schools.

“Everything that we experience in life happens in our precious community of Chapel Hill,” said Isabel Geffner, the chair of the Board of Directors at Boomerang. “There are kids with incredible strengths and gifts, with incredible support systems around them, and there are kids across the socioeconomic divide. Across racial boundaries, across all kinds of potential demographics, who struggle. Most of the kids who we serve at Boomerang are kids who have gotten in trouble somehow at school and they need support and structure a place to belong and people who believe in and care about them.”

As Executive Director of Boomerang, Tami Pfeifer has brought “vision and tenacity” to the organization. With an attitude towards at-risk youth for them to “not be judged, but be helped,” Pfeifer uses her extensive experience in social work to instill a sense of value, strength and safety in the kids that Boomerang works with.

“Suspension happens across the United States,” said Pfeifer. “Different communities handle it different ways, but our community decided that creating an alternative for students to get support while they were on suspension might be a way to address this differently so that kids can be more successful. We know that kids who are suspended are ten times more likely to drop out of school (before graduation).”

Boomerang helps students to solve problems in their lives, and keeps them from becoming statistics on the evening news. Tami Pfeifer helps Boomerang to achieve its goals and continue to help kids in Orange County schools in the best ways it can.

“Everywhere you go, if you ask somebody about Boomerang you will hear some positive things, and I think a lot of that is because of what Tami has done,” said Isabel Geffner.