Here is why our hope is not canceled.
Dear Boys & Girls Clubs family,
Eight years ago tonight, I stood on the stage behind Laylaa, my mentee, as she was crowned Youth of the Year at the Greatest Big Kids Celebration. I remember vividly the sparkle of her crown against the backdrop of hundreds of people giving her a standing ovation. It took my breath away.
She was a bright, mature, and determined teenager with big dreams, but she carried a lot in her heart, having overcome some significant adversity at a young age. She and her family leaned on the Club to help navigate some really difficult challenges—challenges that had the potential to hold her back from being successful in life.
Yet, I knew with great confidence that night that Laylaa would make us all proud.
And has she ever. Laylaa recently accepted an RN position at IU Health Methodist Hospital in the Emergency Medicine and Trauma Center, working under an emergency license in response to the pandemic, providing comfort and care to suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients.
She has transformed before my eyes from a reserved teenager into a confident hero.
This is our why. She’s one example of what happens when we invest in a child, when we see what’s possible in each one of them, and surround their families with the support they need to raise incredible humans.
Tonight was supposed to be our 2020 GBK Celebration. Friends and family would have come to honor our incredible Youth or the Year candidates—Cora, Marcus, Donovan, Andres, Tayah, and Grace. Each child, dressed to the nines in their team color, would have presented their speeches as their families and Great Big Kids—Courtney, Brian, Mike, Rudy, Lisa, and Amy—looked on proudly.
It would have been a magical evening with our mission as clear as ever: we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the children of our community can grow up and be forces for good in the world.
Sadly, we can’t be together tonight to crown our next young star, but you can make a statement to show your belief in the future of the youth in our community. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Family & Children’s Center Foundation, we sought and received a $200,000 matching challenge grant to help offset the revenue lost from our Greatest Kids Celebration. As I write this letter this morning, our community has helped us raise $187,412 toward that goal.
Will you help us cross the finish line to help us ensure that thousands more children like Laylaa have the chance to go on to become the best versions of themselves?
It’s been a wild four months in my new role as CEO, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been a gift to see how unbelievably committed our staff is to those we serve and an even greater privilege to witness the gratitude from the families of our Club members.
We are all in this together.
CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County