A LITTLE BIT ABOUT JOURNEYS
Question: How many of you have taken a journey?
I think we have all taken one. But the journey that I’m referring to is the journey of life. The great philosopher, Yogi Berra, said of journeys “when you come to the fork in the road –take it.” Yogi’s quote is humorous – but it is no laughing matter when a young person comes to that fork in the road and they take the wrong path.
Our newly-honored State of Florida Youth of the Year, Kevin, hit a few bumps in the road, actually saying that Kevin’s road has been bumpy is an understatement – yet he continues to choose the right path. Through disastrous family life, some disastrous foster families and fighting anger, Kevin chose the right path—he is a Boys & Girls Club kid!
I am proud to be part of an organization that has had such a positive impact in so many young people’s lives like Kevin!
Les Brown said on the journey of life: “I believe life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes cruel, but we are well equipped for it, if we tap into our talents and gifts and allow them to blossom.”
Let me illustrate how young people blossom when we tap into their talents and gifts. Last month our members participated in the Boys & Girls Club of America Digital Arts Festival. One of the categories was photo-tech. Boys & Girls Clubs of America serves over four million kids nationwide, and they only give out four national awards for this category. Would you believe that three of the four national winners came from right here at your Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County! Like the quote states – the talent and gifts are in our young people, we just have to give them the opportunity for them to blossom.
The Boys & Girls Clubs has recognized many superstars that got their start at the Boys & Girls Club – Michael Phelps, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lopez, Ron Howard, just to name a few. I love those stories about the superstars, but I also love the story about Carl. Carl had severe anger problems and was a difficult young man. He was being raised by a single mom that struggled to make ends meet. No matter how hard we tried to work with Carl— I felt at times that we were not making progress – I feared the worse for Carl. Then Carl stopped coming to the Club— this appeared to be a young man that we had lost. Some years have passed and while recently shopping at a local pharmacy chain, I was approached by an employee, it was Carl. Carl was in the manager-training program and doing well. Carl gave me a hug and thanked me for what we had done for him—but Carl wasn’t thanking me, he was thanking the Boys & Girls Club. There are many more Carl’s right here in Sarasota being caring, productive, responsible citizens that may not have made it without the Boys & Girls Club. They may not be Olympic gold medalists or academy-award winners – but make no mistake, like Carl, they are superstars!
I believe the greatest gift we can give our young people is hope! I’m going to use one more quote “hope is like the sun – as we journey toward it casts the shadow of burden behind us.”
I started with a question about journeys – now I would like to close with a question. What would happen if there was no Boys & Girls Club?
Without the B&GC – Would those three young people have won national awards? Would that talent been discovered?
Without the B&GC – Where would Kevin be? Would he be STATE Youth of the Year and on the path for success?
Without the B&GC – Where would Michael Phelps and Denzel be? Would they have won gold medals and academy awards?
Without the B&GC – Where would Carl be?
Without the B&GC - Where would I be?
I am a proud alumnus of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. I attended the Club on Fruitville Road. I have had a 35-year affiliation with this organization, and there is one thing I know for sure -the Boys & Girls Club works.