By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The public is invited to attend the annual Boys & Girls Clubs Champions of Youth Gala on Saturday, March 28. The event, “An Evening of Magic,” is scheduled from 6:30 – 11 p.m., at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd Street, in Oklahoma City. Individual tickets are $150.
Event co-chairs are Mary Blankenship Pointer and Karen Rieger. Honorary Chairs include Mike Turpen, Dr. Paul Sechrist and Joan Gilmore.
Former Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez and the Chickasaw Nation will be honored for their efforts supporting the youth of the community.
“Dave Lopez has always had a passion for improving the lives of today’s youth,” said Blankenship Pointer. “The Chickasaw Nation strives to make life better for our community. They believe it is their responsibility to give back to the community to help those in need.”
Guests can bid during the silent auction, which will offer jewelry, dream vacations and tickets to local events.
Participants will enjoy dancing to music by Banana Seat, an Oklahoma City metro area 10-piece band featuring a four-piece horn section and female vocal leads.
The Boys and Girls Clubs serve youth ages 6 to 18. Eighty four percent of its members come from single parent homes.
Programs are offered in Education and Career Development, Character and Leadership Development, Health and Life Skills, the Arts, Sports, and Fitness and Recreation.
Each program is a mix of activities developed by the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the local Club staff and volunteers. The Club strives to provide its members with a sense of belonging, competence, usefulness and influence.
Oklahoma County has approximately 3,000 members in three locations, with, and an average daily attendance of 795. The Boys & Girls Club in Oklahoma City is located at Memorial Park, 3535 N. Western just south of 36th Street.
“Many of the students attending the Boys & Girls Clubs will become first generation high school and college graduates,” said Blankenship Pointer. “They learn leadership skills and the importance of education. We are making an impact on this generation, along with future generations”
Founded in early 1995, the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County, Inc. is governed by a volunteer board of directors and staffed by professional youth development employees.
Community relations and facility director, Mr. A. Jaye Johnson has been employed by the Boys & Girls Clubs for thirteen years. He has a passion for making a difference in the life of each club member and believes it is our responsibility to serve as mentors.
The Clubs’ motto is “The Positive Place for Kids.” They provide a safe place with a positive environment for members to spend their out of school time. Members can resist the temptation of gang involvement, substance abuse, and other delinquent behaviors.
A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Julius Iboni says he was proud to be a member of the Memorial Park Boys and Girls Club.
“I truly believe it is The Positive Place for Kids. It sure was for me,” Iboni said. “Because of the Club, I had the opportunity to meet lifelong friends, famous personalities and caring adult mentors who have been an integral and important part of my life. I will forever be grateful.”
Though other organizations may have similar programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is the only national organization that offers daily programs for youth in their own neighborhoods.
“The positive impact of the Boys and Girls Clubs can last for a lifetime,” said Dr. Sechrist. “The lessons learned, the trouble avoided, and the habits formed by these young people translates into the creation of good students, good citizens, and good Oklahomans.
“Your support changes lives for a lifetime,” Sechrist added.
Information on tickets, sponsorships and other information is available from Lance Ortiz at 602-5713 or visit www.bgcokc.org.