Laughter, emotions and joy were apparent in the venue as the 20th Anniversary Soiree for the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Bend began on Thursday evening at The Moon.
About 300 people filled the circular tables that were decorated in silver and white linen accented with blue and red lights. Jazz musician Longineu Parsons played his trumpet as hors d’oeuvres were handed out by servers while the young club members escorted everyone to their designated seats.
The Stick Patrol Drum Line of the Boys & Girls Club approached the stage banging their drums and crashing their cymbals. Theresa Flury, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls club of the Big Bend approached the lectern to welcome everyone in attendance.
Flury illustrated three core areas of the program, “education, health, fitness and character development.” Sharon Blocker, the grandmother of a Boys & Girls Club of Havana member, described the program as being helpful to her granddaughter.
“I see a higher level of respect and a change of attitude in [my granddaughter],” said Blocker.
An award ceremony was conducted to honor the youth, junior youth, starfish and employee of the year. Destinee Jones, winner of the youth of the year award, told the audience how she felt about the club as she accepted her award.
“They are very supportive and help you when you need them,” said Jones. The crowd chuckled as she continued speaking about Will Cullen, the director of the Miccosukee Boys & Girls Club, saying, “Mr. Will is always on my case.”
Keynote speaker Carlos Alvarez, the All-American wide receiver at the University of Florida and former Boys & Girls Club member, stood behind the lectern with wet eyes as he shared his experiences with the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Miami. Alvarez credited the club for keeping him on the right path which eventually led to his athletic, academic and professional success.
“I am you,” said Alvarez. “I urge you from an academic standpoint to never give it up.”
Alvarez wowed the audience when he generously granted $1,000 to the club’s “I Am Perfect,” program which allows any student who has perfect attendance during the school year to go to Disney World. A proud Gator fan, he challenged any Florida A&M or Florida State alumnus or fan to match his contribution.
It was an evening filled with entertainment, three-course meals, silent auctions and testimonies. Flury made her final comments saying, “There is no better feeling than to tell kids to be proud of themselves and they look at you and say, ‘We are proud of ourselves.'”
Parsons ended the soiree performing Louis Armstrong’s
“What a Wonderful World.”
Tiana Smith, a member of the Miccosukee Boys & Girls Club, discussed how her favorite part of the program is practicing songs and meeting friends.
Charles Smith, the director of operations, said, “I have been with the club for six years and compared to previous anniversaries, I liked the fact that the kids were able to speak.”