May's Youth of the Month!
May 20th, 2015
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 May's Youth of the Month Winners:
Steil Club (Teen): Jovon
Why Staff Selected Jovon: Jovon is a leader in the Club. He has grown a lot over the past few months because he listens to the advice of the leaders around him. He is a team player, and we are glad that he walks through our front door every day!
Steil Club (Elementary): Nyleese
Why Staff Selected Nyleese: We picked Nyleese because she is very helpful in all program areas. She volunteers at dinner, checking in backpacks, and organizing books in the Learning Center. It is a pleasure to have Nyleese at our Club.
Paul I. Phillips Club: Tsyre
Why Staff Selected Tsyre: He is always very kind and helpful around the Club. He likes to carry all of his classmates' backpacks to the Club from school. He also has earned the most Power Hour points of any student at Paul I. Phillips Club this year.
Seidman Club: Perry
Why Staff Selected Perry: Perry has been a Club member for six years at Seidman Club. He is a junior staff member who helps staff around the Club without hesitation and always has. We are very proud to have Perry as May's Youth of the Month!
2015 Volunteer of the Year!
May 20th, 2015
Congratulations to our 2015 Volunteer of the Year, Norine Cunningham!
Norine has been a volunteer at our Paul I. Phillips Club for the past two years. Norine first came to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids as a volunteer with the Grand Valley State University Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) Program.
In addition to her time with the program, Norine has continued to support Boys & Girls Club members by volunteering her personal time to assist in the Learning Center, art room, gym, and cafeteria.
Norine is such a wonderful addition to the Paul I. Phillips team, and we are so grateful for her generous donation of her time and talents!
BGC National Conference
May 19th, 2015
I was honored and privileged to attend the 109th Boys & Girls Clubs National Conference in Chicago last week. Magnificent Milestones was the conference theme with 2015 being the 50th Anniversary of the National Area Council Committee, 25 years since the name change to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and 25 years for the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Areas of focus included using data to improve Club members experience, teen recruitment, and panel discussions about best practices for Club safety.
I also had the opportunity to hear many different speakers, including leadership expert Jim Collins, author of the bestselling book, "Good to Great", Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major league Baseball, and BGCA CEO Jim Clark. Overall, it was a truly inspiring experience celebrating the journey to Great Futures.
Great Futures Start Here!
– Rick Huisman, Executive Director
What a Show!
May 12th, 2015
It’s hard for me wrap my mind around the fact that we just put on our 3rd annual Music Makers Spring Concert. As we close out the third school year of having Performing Arts programming at the Clubs full-time, I am so thankful for all the support we receive from our Board of Directors, our Executive Director Rick Huisman, our staff and you, our supporters. It’s an amazing process to watch young people find confidence and feel successful expressing themselves through the Arts. Allow me to shine a small light on how the process of putting on our concerts works…
First of all, the Performing Arts staff (consisting of myself, Deborah Carroll and Titus Hankins) begin to talk about what the concert will look like and what we hope to achieve. Then we take it to the kids; what songs do they want to perform? We compile a list and see what resonates the most and feels organic. Deborah and Titus begin to teach the singers their parts, and I begin to put together the BGC Band arrangements with our young guitarists, pianists, and percussionists/drummers. For many weeks and months, we rehearse. And rehearse. And rehearse. Of course, along the way we laugh, we smile. We might have a moment of frustration, but we always push through.
Finally, show week comes. We take members from all three locations and bus them to Wealthy Theatre the day before the show for the one rehearsal they will have together. Yes, one rehearsal together. You’d be astonished at how wonderfully they all work together to achieve our common goal, even though they don’t always know one another. They’ve all learned the same music, so that is our common bond. We practice getting on and off stage and run as much of the show as we can.
Show day – it arrives in a flurry of excitement and nerves. T-shirts and programs are being picked up from the printers. Rosters, food for the performer after-party, and “Performers Only” VIP signs are made. Everyone heads to the theatre, and we prepare for a stellar evening. The atmosphere is full of energy and anticipation. We give them the final pep talk about five minutes before we take the stage, and we’re off!
This year’s concert consisted of many songs with a common theme: love and acceptance. Colbie Caillat’s “Try” states “Look into the mirror, at yourself/ Don’t you like you?/ Cause I like you.” Another highlight this year was performing “Glory” by John Legend and Common which focuses on the Civil Rights Movement. It was an emotional performance which had many of us near tears. We closed the show with every single performer on stage singing and playing “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, complete with an extended jam session at the end that had the kids dancing and moving while they sang. And this little number too...
Our 3rd Spring Concert was a night we will never forget. Our members felt successful and happy, and seeing that written on their faces was the icing on the cake. There is no doubt in my mind that this program changes lives. I see it every day. Having the opportunity to go out and perform for the community was a perfect way to close out another fantastic school year of Performing Arts programming. Here’s to more magical moments ahead of us!
– Casey Stratton, Director of Performing Arts