“The Boys & Girls Club changed who I am as a person.”
“The Club saved me from what could have been.”
“You hear so many negative things in the news. You are looking at one who made it out, thanks to the Boys & Girls Club.”
These are the bold statements from Carly Rauch, Marcia Burton and Bernard Neal, current and former Boys & Girls Club members, at the annual Great Futures Breakfast this week. The event marked the beginning of the 2020 Great Futures campaign, which aims to raise $400,000 to support the work of the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
A centerpiece of the event is the public recognition of the 2019-2020 Youth of the Year. Carly Rauch, a member of the Monroe Boys & Girls Clubs, received this year’s honor. She was also selected as the divisional winner for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of the Carolinas, an award for which she was selected from more than 40 Clubs across the Carolinas.
Rauch delivered her Youth of the Year speech, in which she detailed her unique path to the Boys & Girls Club. She grew up in competitive dance, but an unfortunate injury derail her plans. Unable to dance, she found herself with time – time she ultimately devoted to the Club. A friend invited her to check it out, and she was hooked. She began attending and mentoring the younger kids.
“My main goal is for the kids I work with to see as much potential in themselves as I see in them,” she said.
Now, her foot has healed, but her heart belongs to the Club.
“The Boys & Girls Club changed who I am as a person,” she said. “I need the Club as much as they need me.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs is in the business of changing lives. To provide additional insight into what the Boys & Girls Clubs accomplish in the community, organizers also assembled a panel discussion, moderated by Neal, who was the “Boy of the Year” from Charlotte in 1975 and went on to receive a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 1985. The panelists included Rauch, along with Marcia Burton (Youth of the Year, 1988) and Xavier Hall (Youth of the Year, Belmont, 2018).
“I shutter to think what my life would be like without the Club,” said Burton. “The Club saved me from what could have been .The support of the Club and the staff made all the difference in the world.”