Hues of Boys & Girls Club blue shinned across exposed brick while laughter, tears and heartfelt gratitude could be heard from the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia’s Doors to great Futures Donor, Volunteer and Youth of the Year awards dinner.
Two hundred guests were in attendance to be honored for their commitment to BGCNCG’s mission of enabling all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. An added experience for the evening for guests was witnessing the announcement of the 2019 Youth of the Year winner, Pete Nance Boys & Girls Club member Riquaria Griggs, who will now compete in the state level competition in March 2019.
Guests were greeted by the 2019 Youth of the Year Candidates from each Club, as well as the smiling faces of Club youth to celebrate alongside the community. After all, BGCNCG says when it comes to changing lives “Great Futures Start Together.”
Hosts for the evening were Bob Mackey, CEO & President of BGCNCG and Karen Robertson, Sr. Executive Director for Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club.
The evening collaboratively shared highlighting the dedication of community members and the voices of Club members who have felt first-hand the impact of those who give, volunteer and mentor alongside them.
Club Alumni Renea Freeman, now a school teacher, shared her gratitude for the Club.
“I can identify first-hand how the Boys & Girls Club has continued to help me become a more productive, caring and responsible citizen. Without the Boys & Girls Club supporting me during my time as a member and even now as an alumnus, I would not be the educated, innovative, resilient and informed woman I am today,” she shared through emotions. “When other doors would close in my life, the doors of the Club were always open to me. Walking through those blue doors allowed me to become the first college graduate in my family.”
Freeman thanked donors, volunteers and the youth she shared her Club experience with for giving her a hope and promise to be the change in the world she now serves in. It was quite the kickoff for an evening of hope and promise stories.
Throughout the evening, the 2019 Youth of the Year candidates shared their speeches in between awards.
Walton County Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Ronny Monford, shared how the Club took him from a troubled youth to a leader within his Club and community.
“The Club has challenged me to become a voice within my community. They’ve provided me opportunities to hold leadership roles, such as being the only youth from WCBGC to sit on Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Keystone Steering Committee this year,” Ronny shared. “I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the encouragement and mentorship of Mike and Linda Conrads (sponsors of the YOY program).”
Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Ar’Mond Wright shared his love for Club staff and programming that changed his life forever.
“Before this experience, I was very shy and uncertain of my own voice,” Ar’Mond shared. “I realize now that I have the ability to make a difference in my community. I love that I get to make that difference inside the Club with the youth that look up to me.”
Pete Nance Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Riquaria Griggs, spoke about her fear of being different and how the Club helped her see the true “amazingness” of herself.
“It took me a very long time to love myself,” Riquaria shared. “ The Club’s Smart Girls program helped me to see the true beauty I hold and to see how amazing I really am as a person. I love giving back within the Club and in my community. I want everyone to know how special they are inside and out.”
There were several Boys & Girls Clubs of America legends in the room, including Walton County resident Ronnie Jenkins.
Jenkins shared an inspirational message of impact, highlighting his Club experience saving his life as a child to watching Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia having one of the most innovative models in the state of Georgia.
“Truly, great futures start here and to everyone in this room who has given, volunteered and participated in creating great futures – you are changing lives,” Jenkins said.
Here are our award recipients:
Connie Bryans was in for a surprise, as she was asked to help announce the recipient for her award. Bryans was asked to read the award out loud to which she discovered it was for her. Immediately, Bryans was moved to tears and speechless.
“I believe in what we are doing here at Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia,” she said. “Watching our youth succeed with pride in their accomplishments makes this work more than worthwhile. Thank you so much for this honor.”
Another surprise for the evening was for Claude Grizzard, as he was asked to step forward and receive the Lifetime Movement award from Boys & Girls Clubs of America legends David Roark and Ronnie Jenkins.
“Claude is a legend himself,” Mackey said. “He has been involved with BGCA for over 54 years and has created a living legacy here at Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia with his commitment to our youth.”
Michael Geoffroy is the board chair and the driving force behind the development of the Newton County Boys & Girls Club. Newton County Boys & Girls Club is set to open January 2019. Geoffroy’s passion for the NCBGC is infectious.
“In less than six months, Michael has been able to gather a group of dedicated community members to raise the needed funds and awareness for the Newton County Boys & Girls Club,” Bob Mackey said. “Michael's leadership and involvement speak for itself.”
“Canon made a commitment to support and further our mission in 2018 in a big way by providing financial contributions and materials support to every Club and our organization as a whole,” Mackey shared. “We are so grateful for our growing partnership and their vision to see that together we can change lives.”
“Linda Conrads has been involved in the movement of Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia for over 10 years. She is one of our sponsors and supporter of our Youth of the Year program, as well has been a judge for our Youth of the Year program in the past,” Mackey said. “There is no one like Linda Conrads.”
During the awards, the Youth of the Year Candidates were invited to the stage to learn who won the 2019 Regional Youth of the Year for BGCNCG.
As the winner’s banner as being raised, the room fell silent and then erupted with cheers as Riquaria Griggs of Pete Nance Boys & Girls Clubs was named the regional winner. Griggs jumped with joy, hugged her fellow Youth of the Year Candidates and shared tears with her family after the announcement.
To close the incredible evening of celebration toward the movement, Claude Grizzard passed the gavel to next year’s Corporate Board Chairman Michael Tompkins.
Tompkins congratulated all winners and highlighted his excitement for the New Year ahead as BGCNCG continues to growth its reach, impact and lives changed.
Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Georgia provides club experiences in Madison, Greene, Putnam and Newton Counties.
BGCNCG’s vision is to provide a world-class experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who enters our doors.
For more information or to donate, visit www.bgcncg.com. If you’d like to get involved please contact 770-267-8034.