It’s that time of year when many of us think about change. You can see it when the leaves change color – it’s that transition time, going from the heat of summer to the coolness of fall. If you’ve lived in Charlotte for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen some change. The once mid-sized city has become a bustling metropolis. And, with that growth, we’ve encountered many issues in our community where even more change is needed.
On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club hosted its 27th annual Steak & Burger dinner, made possible by the Charlotte Automobile Dealers Association. A new venue – the Charlotte Convention Center – wasn’t the only change discussed during the event. Gracing the stage were emcee Larry Sprinkle from NBC Charlotte, and guest speakers Ray Evernham and Tatiana Aguilar. Unbeknownst to them, there was a common theme in each of their remarks.
Keynote speaker Ray Evernham, 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and former crew chief for Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports, gave an inspirational talk about change.
“Kids today are facing the toughest world we’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “We have to provide them with the tools to change, and those tools are love, caring and giving.”
Evernham talked about his days growing up in New Jersey and how a baseball coach and mentor made a huge impact in his life through his support. He found the same in Rick Hendrick when he went into the racing business. Mr. Hendrick told him, “You can do this” and then never left his side.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs does this for kids in our community,” he added. “It provides them with confidence, guidance and tools to change, both themselves and the community around them.”
There was no better spokesperson for that statement than Tatiana Aguilar. Speaking as the 2017 local and state Youth of the Year, Aguilar talked about how she used to feel like she didn’t fit in. But, at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, a staff member said something to her she’ll never forget. “Your background doesn’t define you. You define you.”
Her mindset changed. She was inspired to be what God made her to be: a confident young woman and a leader among her classmates.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of my Boys & Girls Club,” she said.
At the end of her rousing speech, she encouraged everyone in the room to high five each other and boldly proclaim: “You can make a change.”
Change can happen. But, it often takes will, determination and a little support from a friend. Fortunately, the room was filled with change-makers, ready to strike out and be a part of the solutions we need in our community.Do you want to be a change-maker?Donate to make a difference through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte. Donate