When someone blesses you, the best response is to pass it on. And, when someone pours into your life, you aren’t likely to forget it. Instead, you find ways to pour into the lives of others.
That mindset was on display on Tuesday night at the 28th annual Steak & Burger Dinner, an event to benefit The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte. The event, which includes an opportunity for supporters to dine with members of the Clubs, raises awareness and financial resources for the seven local Clubs in Mecklenburg and Union counties. The Charlotte International Auto Show was the event’s presenting sponsor. Hendricks Automotive Group sponsored a special VIP reception prior to the event.
Taking the stage were several former Club members, all with compelling stories, not only of how the Clubs changed their lives, but how they are now giving back to the organization. Emceeing the festivities was WCNC’s Larry Sprinkle, a former Club member with a life-changing story of his own.
Youth of the Year Tatiana Aguilar, now a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shared how the Club is still impacting her life, even after she’s moved on.
“It’s very easy to be consumed when you are in college,” said Aguilar. “You have to break away and think of someone other than yourself.”
Aguilar has done that in the Triangle, as she’s found a Boys & Girls Club close to UNC-Chapel, where she volunteers every week, helping with homework and teaching a Latin dance class.
“When I was a member of the Club, I got so excited when volunteers came in. I knew they were giving up their time to help us at the Club. I try to bring the same enthusiasm now when I volunteer because I know how important it is. I want to help these future leaders grow.”
Andre Reed, NFL Hall of Famer and keynote speaker at the event, echoed that sentiment.
“If I see a volunteer or Club staff member today, I thank them and tell them they saved my life. That’s the impact the Club has had on me.”
Andre is a Boys & Girls Clubs of America ambassador and member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jennifer Lopez and more. Through his foundation, Reed regularly supports Clubs across the nation. He has implemented his “Read with Reed 83” reading program in several NFL cities, and discussions are underway for bringing the program to Charlotte.
He does all of these because of what the Club meant to him during his childhood.
From age 6 until 15, you could find Andre at his local Boys & Girls Club. He grew up in an interracial family. He didn’t understand it to be a big deal, until he had to regularly answer questions from other kids. “Why is your mom this color?” “Why is your dad that color?”
His mom worked a lot, and his dad was an alcoholic.
“I was scared at home, but I wasn’t scared at the Club or on a football field,” Andre said. “I didn’t grow up in the best situation or the best neighborhood, but the Club got me ready for life.”
He describes being the last person to leave the Club every day, because he didn’t want to go home.
“The Club gave me stability and helped me see myself for the first time. The Club reminded me that somebody’s in my corner. Somebody loves me. Somebody sees something in me that I didn’t see myself.”
For those in attendance at the event, it was moving to hear these impactful stories. The night raised more than $136,000 for the local Boys & Girls Clubs! Thank you to all of the event’s sponsors and attendees for supporting the Clubs. There’s still an opportunity to get involved. Donate here.