Great Futures Honored at the 2016 Boys and Girls Clubs Dinner

BoysGirls_trait_01Great Futures Honored at the 2016 Boys and Girls Clubs Dinner

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 21, 2016)Red Door Realty Ad _own_your_dream

Royal Oak, MI – Rashemia Powell stood before the crowd at the 2016 Celebrating the Future Dinner for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties, accepting the award as one of two Youths of the Year.

The 18 year old, who is a senior at Ferndale High School, came into the club with high ambitions. “I watched a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck. I did not want to live that life,” she said.

She threw herself into schoolwork.

“I took all AP and Honors classes,” Powell said. “Having higher education levels opens more doors.” And indeed success has followed. Powell has been accepted to Michigan State University where she plans on studying biology and teaching. The latter might GT ad 06not have even occurred to her if not for her experiences at the club.

She started attending in sixth grade but it was not until her teenage years that she began to volunteer at the Royal Oak location. “I started monitoring the game room, but I started to learn little things,” she said. She talked about how the younger club members started to look up to her and tell her things about their lives or their problems. “They’re so open.”

The natural progression from club member, to volunteer to mentor is exactly the way Boys and Girls Clubs work. And while one might presume having a safe place to do homework and set goals is important, Powell’s experience gave her something even more that she needed: balance.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. But when I come to the club, that pressure is just off,” she said. She also said that it “opened a new world” for her, with activities like college trips, different sports and even fishing.

“Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone,” Powell said.UrbaneAd_04

Her co-winner was 17 year old Noah Suitt. Suitt attends Lamphere High School in Madison Heights and goes to the Jack and Patti Salter Unit in Royal Oak where he works as junior staff. For Suitt, the Boys and Girls Club was part of an overall system of support.

He’d been going to the club for over ten years, with a determination to play the various sports offered. “I’ve broken a few bones at the club,” he said. Among the first was while playing basketball. He was learning how to do layups when he jumped for the shot and came down with enough force to shatter his knee.

When that happened, people he knew from the club visited him in the hospital instead of just forgetting about him.

Suitt has Osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as “brittle bone disease.” While he does not let the disease define him, or stop him, it is a reality that he’s grown up with. His years at the Boys and Girls Club have given him an candlewickshoppeADblueextra layer of support. “I’ve always had a very strong support system,” he said. “The club has given me the opportunity to be around people who forget about the disease. They really listen when it’s time to listen, and I carry that over with me as a staff member.”

He plays sports and pushes himself in spite of the risk of fractures. “I’m the type of person [who feels like] you always got to come back stronger.”

Suitt explained that though he has received a lot of support, what he really likes is the perspective he gets from supporting others. “You hear these stories and it’s like, everybody is going through something. Everybody struggles.”

After graduation Suitt hopes to build a career in broadcast journalism.

Alora Allen, 2015 Youth of the Year winner, helped present Saturday night’s program. Not only did Allen win for the Oakland and Macomb program, she went on to become Midwest Youth of the Year. She has received over $70,000 in college scholarships and will be going to meet President Barack Obama at the White House in September.garden16_scott_robin_galloway

Allen was the first attendee of the Field Zone program in Southfield to get the award.

The evening honored youth of many ages, as well as Boys and Girls Club workers, volunteers, board members and sponsors. The 44th District Court, Be Fit Running Club and the Omega Si Fi Fraternity were commended for being Champions of Youth for their commitment to mentoring youth. Jack and Annette Aronson, who funded the opening of the center in Ferndale and have been volunteers with Boys and Girls Club for years, were given the Heart and Soul Award. And this year marked the creation of a new award, the Professional of the Year Award. This award was given to Sally Owen who is a grant specialist and strong advocate for the program. Moving forward the award will be called the Sally Owen Professional of the YearChamberAd_01 Award.

Other children shared their stories too, from various winners of awards to those who had won in the past. Combined with a buffet dinner and music created at the Field Zone’s music program, the night was made to give the youngsters special memories. It also helped the volunteers and donors see firsthand what the results of their caring are.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Oakland County serves over 2700 club members age 6-18 through locations in Oakland and Macomb counties. Their goal is to inspire and enable young people to realize their full potential, with core areas being academic success, healthy life skills and development in leadership and character. It is a great after-school or summertime destination for kids who may not have full time supervision at home.

“If you watch these kids transform over the years you can’t help but continue,” said Executive Director Brett Tillander. “Because of you, stories of great futures starting here will always be true.”

To learn more visit http://www.boysandgirlsclubs.us.

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