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Finding your Aha Moment!

December 15th, 2014

Written by Director of Programming Erin Crison (pictured above)

For every person, there is something that grounds them to this earth, something that gives them a sense of belonging, usefulness and competency, something that makes them go “aha.” For me as a child, that “aha” moment came through the pages of a book, and that moment would have never happened without my mother. With all the bookcases in my living room and the totes of even more books in my basement, it amazes me and the people who know me that I was that kid, the kid who couldn’t read in school. I was the child who wasn’t getting it. I was the child that the teachers gave up on.

But not my mom. My mother spent countless hours and ways trying to figure out what was missing for me. Why wasn’t her baby who loved sitting on her grandmother’s lap listening to her read stories reading? And then one day, and I still remember this day, she gave me a copy of the first book I ever read on my own, it was a copy of “The Boxcar Children” – the greatest book ever written. And I had my “aha” moment. 

You see, it wasn’t that I couldn’t read, it was that I couldn’t be bothered by the little one word per page beginner books that students were given to read in school. Why would I want to learn to read the word “ball” when there was a picture directly above it? I wasn’t interested, but give me a book about a family of four siblings surviving on their own in a boxcar, and I was hooked. I was so hooked that by the time I was in fifth grade, I was reading high school and beyond reading material. 

Books were my “aha” moment. Books were what kept me grounded to reality. They kept me feeling like I belonged even though I spent my childhood changing schools and moving across the country as an Air Force brat.

Now, as a mother, I have seen that “aha” moment in the eyes of my 2-year-old boy every time he picks up a basketball. Every time he is in our Clubs, this little boy marches three feet into our gyms, picks up a full size adult basketball, and launches it confidently towards the baskets. He believes that he is going to make it every time…and some day he will. He has found his “aha” moment.

I have seen these “aha” moments take place within our Club members as well. 

When I first started, there was a little boy named Ulises. Ulises is not so little anymore, but seven years ago, he was the little boy who was tagging along and following his big brother through our doors. It was when the Youth Commonwealth first became a Boys & Girls Club. All of the staff were so excited and to celebrate the event we took pictures, a lot of pictures. And Ulises was one of those cute little kids who just looked absolutely adorable on camera. Later on when I got the film developed (No, I did not use a digital camera. Yes, this was a really long time ago.), I noticed that this cute, adorable little boy who took this picture with the staff and 20 other kids had a huge smile on his face, and that if you looked closer this little boy who looked so cute and adorable was flipping the camera off with both hands.  

And that was Ulises, super cute and adorable, but was still struggling to find his sense of belonging, his senses of usefulness, his sense of competency, his “aha” moment. 

I remember the day that it happened. This little boy had the mouth of a sailor and could tell the best of adults where to go when he was mad. But the first day he stepped into our Art Room, the first day he picked up a pencil and sketched the most amazing picture, the first day our Art Director took that picture and hung it up and praised him for his skill, that was Ulises’ “aha” moment. 

I have had the privilege of witnessing and helping hundreds of Club members find their “aha” moments. 

I have seen a child who at the age of 11 had already experienced the uncertainty of homelessness, of truly not having a physical place to belong in this world, find his “aha” moment when his fingers touched the keys of a piano. 

I have seen a teenager with a volatile home environment have their “aha, I’m home” moment when they arrived at Camp O’Malley for the first time. 

I have seen a teenager who society had given up on, a teen who thought their sense of belonging existed in being the “bad kid,” find their “aha” moment when I was able to share with him pictures of food that they had packaged in a Club service event be delivered to Haiti shortly following the devastating earthquake of 2010. I read the words of the Director who delivered that food, telling the youth that they had made a positive difference in someone else’s life, that they can have an impact, that they were heroes. It was a big “aha.”

Every day “aha” moments take place in our Clubs, every day the groundwork for future “aha” moments is laid.

This could not happen without your support. 

So this holiday season, I would like to thank you for the past “aha” moments, the present ones, and most importantly the future “aha” moments.

Together we have, and together we will, continue to build “great futures.”

Comments

#1 Holly said:

What a wonderful story! Amazing work you and the Boys and Girls Clubs do for kids!

#2 Denise Aungst said:

The very essence of believing in every child until they are able to believe them self.

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November ROCK STAR Staff of the Month

November 20th, 2014

Every month we like to highlight the Staff Member that stands out! This month's ROCK STAR Staff of the Month is: Ryan Huizenga

Education Coordinator Ryan Huizenga was nominated as November's Rock Star because he is an awesome team player who goes above and beyond the call of duty! Thanks Ryan.

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November's Youth of the Month!

November 19th, 2014

Our Youth of the Month (YOM) program spotlights a Club member who truly represents the mission of our Clubs. Staff will decide on a YOM based on their involvement in different activities and behavior. It is a program that helps to build our participation in the national Youth of the Year program.

Congratulations to November's Youth of the Month Winners:

Seidman Club: Dymond
Why Staff Selected Dymond: Dymond was chosen because she has been helping our staff without being asked and cleaning up when needed. She is very kind and always brings smiles to our staff and members.

 

 

Steil Club: Keyon
Why Staff Selected Keyon: Keyon is a teen member who has shown leadership and dedication to the Club. He has been a good role model for the younger Club members through his good behavior and willingness to assist staff with multiple different tasks around the Club.

Paul I. Phillips Club: Ikiya
Why Staff Selected Ikiya: Ikiya always helps out at supper time and at the front desk. She happily does anything else the staff asks her to do.

Comments

#1 Cynthia Wright said:

I'm very proud of all the kids!!!!!!! But very proud of my granddaughter Ikiya and my nephew Keyon. Keep up the good work!!!!

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'Tis the Season for Teddy Bears!

November 18th, 2014

This holiday Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth are proud to partner with The Bon-Ton Stores (Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers) and Club alum Mario Lopez as part of their 4th Annual Give the Gift of a Great Future campaign. 

Bon-Ton shoppers can purchase a teddy bear or make a donation at any Bon-Ton store and online. The adorable, plush teddy bears are dressed up in holiday scarves and retail for $7.00. Your purchase generates a minimum donation of $2.75 to Boys & Girls Clubs. Beginning November 17th and ending December 24th, in-store and online, customers can donate $3.00 and receive a coupon or discount.

Boys & Girls Clubs across the country thank Bon-Ton for supporting the end-of-year campaign. Mario Lopez, Alumni Ambassador for Boys & Girls Clubs of America, says, “As a former Club kid, I know Clubs are safe places where children can grow, learn and develop. I hope you will join me and your local Bon-Ton store this holiday season by supporting Boys & Girls Clubs in your community and across the nation.”

Bon-Ton Stores has been a supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs for over a decade. Last year, they raised over $430,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs during their Holiday program. This year, the program has a goal of $500,000 and 60 percent of all funds raised in store will go back to local organizations! 

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October's Youth of the Month!

October 27th, 2014

Our Youth of the Month (YOM) program spotlights a Club member who truly represents the mission of our Clubs. Staff will decide on a YOM based on their involvement in different activities and behavior. It is a program that helps to build our participation in the national Youth of the Year program.

Congratulations to October's Youth of the Month Winners:

Seidman Club: Kiaeem
Why Staff Selected Kiaeem: We chose this individual because he has taken it upon his person to help out the staff when they need it. Also, when we have dinner he takes his time for free time to help clean up and direct the children to the gym. He has been very helpful and a leader!

 

Steil Club: Yadira
Why Staff Selected Yadira: Yadira is the Youth of the Month because she is a member who attends each day and helps in each area.

 

 

Paul I. Phillips Club: Ladell
Why Staff Selected Ladell: Ladell is our Youth of the Month because he is always enthusiastic about participating in any activity.  His sportsmanship, behavior, and energy add more fun to any game and increases the enjoyment of all Club members.

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Congrats! 40 Under 40

October 22nd, 2014

Grand Rapids Business Journal recently released their 40 Under 40 list to recognize the top young professionals making a difference in our community. With a recordbreaking 171 noimations, we are so proud of our Director of Development, Nicole Rodammer, for making the list for the second year in a row!

Also, congrats are in order for our Resource Development Committee Member David Hill for making the top 40!

We are so lucky to have such wonderful and driven leaders shaping our organization and helping to better the lives of our Club members.

View the full article in GRBJ here.

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Day for Kids!

October 13th, 2014

At Boys & Girls Clubs, we want to show our kids just how special and valued they really are. We did just that this past Saturday for our Annual Day for Kids Event. More than 300 children and families came to our Seidman Boys & Girls Club for a Fun Carnival. Kids were able to play more than 10 different carnival games from the classic Plinko game from The Price is Right to new games like Roller Bowler and Color Toss.  Guests were given opportunities to play unlimited amounts of games and use their tickets to claim all kinds of prizes. In true carnival fashion, kids got their faces painted, ate lots of popcorn and cotton candy, and dunked their favorite Club staff with water. What would the day have been without lots and lots of food for everyone to enjoy? Kids had so much fun at our Day for Kids event. Thanks so much to our sponsors, supporters, staff and volunteers to helped make this day happen! See more photos of the event here!

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Kids Adventure Challenge Complete!

October 10th, 2014

We had a great time at the Third Annual Kids Adventure Challenge hosted by Gazelle Sports. Boys & Girls Club of Grand Rapids was very excited to once again be chosen as the events partner charity. The event, which was held at the John Ball Zoo welcomed more than 500 children and their families. Each team consisted of two to five people who raced through the zoo and the surrounding park to compete in many physical and mental challenges together. This year's theme was sports, so all of the challenges were based on various kinds of sports from bowling, football, golf and soccer to name a few. Families even got to take pictures with several mascots from local sports teams and colleges who made an appearance at the event.   After two hours or when each challenge was complete, teams raced to the finish line to claim their prizes. The event was a huge success! Thanks to our many sponsors, including Spectrum Health, the event helped raise more than $5,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth.

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September's Youth of the Month!

September 27th, 2014

Our Youth of the Month (YOM) program spotlights a Club member who truly represents the mission of our Clubs. Staff will decide on a YOM based on their involvement in different activities and behavior. It is a program that helps to build our participation in the national Youth of the Year program.

Congratulations to September's Youth of the Month Winners:

Seidman Club: Cristina
Why Staff Selected Cristina: Cristina was chosen because she has been helping out the staff and has showed leadership and responsibility within the Club.


 

 

Paul I. Phillips Club: Emmanuel
Why Staff Selected Emmanuel: Emmanuel is our Youth of the Month because he not only is one of the first students through the door every day, he is always smiling.  Emmanuel loves to help out the staff with any project from moving furniture to serving supper.

 

 

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Round Up at Olive Garden!

September 21st, 2014

As part of a national partnership between Olive Garden and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), our local Olive Garden is making a special delivery to kick off Olive Garden’s annual Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion by providing pasta, salad and breadsticks. In addition to the special meal, Olive Garden is inviting guests to round up their checks to the nearest dollar and make a donation to support Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the seven-week Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion (Sept 22-Nov 9).

Never Ending Pasta Bowl is Olive Garden’s most popular promotion all year. In fact, they served more than 13 million bowls of pasta during last year's promotion. The restaurant’s “never-ending pasta bowl” promotion gives customers unlimited pasta, plus soup or salad and breadsticks – all starting at just $9.99.

From September 22 through November 9, Olive Garden will be inviting its customers to round up their checks to support Boys & Girls Clubs.

By simply rounding up their checks and donating the difference to Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids, customers can help make a big difference for kids in our community.

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Our Mission

To enable all young people to reach their full potential as responsible citizens through education, recreation, and other positive community experiences in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department.

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for direct numbers to specific departments and staff visit the contact page.

Paul I. Phillips

sflood@bgcgrand...

(616) 719.0775

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Grand Rapids, MI
49503

Steil Club

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235 Straight Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI
49504

Seidman Club

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(616) 452.0061

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49507

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Alto, MI
49302