For 29 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte has held a unique event called its “Steak & Burger Dinner.” The concept is simple: the Club members in attendance are treated like kings and queens and served steak; the adults eat the hamburgers.
Each event has been memorable, but there was something different about this year.
The evening, emceed by WCNC’s Larry Sprinkle, began on a somber note. Marty Clary, executive director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte, led a moment of silence for two Club members we’ve lost this past year, Phillip Moore of our Milton Road Club Boys & Girls Club, and Zariah Burgess, of our Monroe Boys & Girls Club.
Next, members from our Center of Hope Club performed a moving interpretive dance routine to the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
Jim Clark, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, was the keynote speaker.
“We are here to celebrate – to celebrate the city coming together and the incredible young people in this community who the Clubs open their doors to every day,” he said. “The Clubs are their oasis; their second home; their home away from home.”
Yes, the event was a celebration of the great work of the Clubs in Charlotte and across the nation. But, Clark also reminded attendees of the opportunity we all have to do more.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs are 158 years old, that’s remarkable,” Clark said. “But, as a legacy organization, we have a reputational demand to do more to fight poverty in our nation.”
“We are all supposed to be created equal. The American Dream is at risk. We see an erosion taking place across this nation. Unfortunately, we’ve become a society where access is for some, not all.
“Our kids today are the first generation in history that stands to not do as well as their parents – educationally, financially and physically. There’s a silver lining: the Clubs. We don’t just transform lives, we save lives.”
The audience, which consisted of community leaders, sponsors, staff, Club members and friends, was inspired to advocate and support the Clubs. The event raised more than $83,000 for local Club programs.
But, it was a 13-year-old young man named Shaunterio Sain who stole the show. Performing his original song “Why Me?” which deals with difficult questions he’s wrestled with as a result of his family’s plight, his intimate vocal style gripped the audience. His second tune, a version of Andra Day’s hit song “Rise Up” provided an inspirational response to handling his adversity.
Of course, the audience response was a standing ovation.
The Club creed is that it doesn’t matter where you are from, it matters where you are going. And, its motto is to do whatever it takes, one kid at a time, to help kids have a great future.
It’s evident that Shaunterio will have a great future, thanks to support he’s received at the Club. And, for hundreds of other kids in Charlotte, the same is true.