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Great Futures Awards Celebrates Youth, Staff & Partnership


the action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social, activity.

The atmosphere at Detroit’s Garden Theater was celebratory from the moment guests hit the door. DJ Todd Everett could be heard spinning all the hits from the lobby. And the registration table informed everyone that the night was sure to reflect the year that Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan has had.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

The first indicator: the reception. The inclusion of youth at an event that is usually reserved for adults reflects the organization’s path forward. Youth and adults together at the Great Futures Awards seemed only right.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

The main floor of The Garden was packed with people eager to recognize the work of the BGCSM staff and youth. Program partners, board members, supporters and more all gathered for an evening of elegance. But the real party was upstairs.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

The mezzanine served as home to the youth reception that rivaled the one below. Was it mentioned that DJ Todd Everett was amazing?

Princess, 16, is this year’s Youth of the Year representing the Romulus Club. She says that she’s witnessed lots of changes within the organization in her 10 years with BGCSM.

“I could say it’s been a roller coaster,” she says. “I was able to find my safe place. Over the years they’ve seen me grow, but I’ve been able to watch them grow too.” The high school junior hopes to major in psychology after high school graduation.

Two things united the adults and youth; the promise of food and a chance to pose for The Top Pic Collective photo booth.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

“I love that the kids are a part of this evening,” says board member Jennifer Demello-Johnson. “We’re here for the kids, not for ourselves.”

The BGCSM staff was also found time to create a few surprises throughout the night – to the point of printing dummy copies of the evening’s program so Hiram E. Jackson and Jennifer Wakenell were unaware that they, too, would be award recipients. The two received the Legacy and Ed Rommeck Professional of the Year Awards, respectively. Going forward, the Legacy Award will name renamed the Hiram E. Jackson Legacy Award.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

“I don’t normally go out like this, Shawn,” Jackson joked to the crowd, singling out Shawn H. Wilson, president & CEO of BGCSM. Not only was he surprised, the chairman of BGCSM’s board of directors says that he was surprised that he could be surprised.

Jackson began attending the Fauver-Martin Club at six years old when it was known as the Boys’ Club of Highland Park. He recounted experiences there that ultimately molded him into the man he is today. He then announced a $2M matching grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to the audience of more than 200 people.

“That’s matching, folks. I’m not sure if you caught that,” Wilson quipped.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

Donations made to BGCSM’s Reimagine campaign will be matched by the Foundation.

Photo: Darren Clark/Urban Content Studios

As we enter into 2020, the path forward is both clear and promising.

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