A memorial to the late James Tucker kicked off the evening. A video highlighted Tucker’s involvement with the club through the years. He was a foundation for the original Boys Club of Cleveland and a strong component for both boys and girls throughout the years.
“Dear Mr. Tucker, thank you for the Boys and Girls Club. I now have a place to go,” a child read on the video.
A song written by Derrick Kinsey accompanied the pictures.
“What you did was give us hope. What you did was teach us right from wrong,” sang Quentin Scott. “What you did was give us a place we could call home. ... Thank you, Mr. Tucker for what you did. Thank you, Mr. Tucker for the life you lived.”
Ron Crawford, Cleveland High School football coach, delivered a speech as the night’s guest speaker.
Martin Ringstaff, Cleveland City Schools director, introduced Crawford.
“Coach Crawford is a very special individual, not because he can win football games, but because he grows individuals. He can take teenagers and get the most out of them,” Ringstaff said. His leadership off the field has made him successful on the field and in the high school.”
Crawford spoke on courage, commitment and character.
“We ask [CHS football players] to be a man. What is being a man?” Crawford asked. “It is sometimes easy for our guys to make the right decision. It is not so easy for them to speak with a teammate who is making bad decisions.”
Continued Crawford, “We ask them to be resistant to passiveness and to step out and be a leader.”
He said Cleveland coaches ask their players to resist passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously and work for a greater reward. Crawford said being a man is not comprised of the type of music a person listens to or their favorite food. Being a man means stepping up to the challenge of responsibility and character.
A third mandate given to CHS players is to “Love your brother.” Crawford said teammates should strive to accept each other’s differences, protect their name and serve each other. He said the team was incomplete last year due to their inability to live out these three guidelines.
“We need to protect our name. The name you are given is the name you have got to protect: your school, your teammates, all of those institutions are important,” Crawford said. “Don’t embarrass your school, don’t embarrass your team, don’t embarrass your family and don’t embarrass yourself.”
Crawford left the podium with a challenge.
“There are all kinds of great stories like Meeri’s [Youth of the Year Meeri Shin]. They are everywhere,” Crawford said. “They ought to inspire you adults. They ought to inspire young people. Let’s continue to do what we have to do to keep organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs in business so they can continue to care for these kids.”
Steve Hixson, past chief volunteer officer, said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland have the best staff.
“One thing I’ve always said about the staff here. We have the best staff than I think you could have anywhere,” Hixson said. “They will take an idea and make it work. If you have a good idea, just let them go with it and they will make it work.”
He encouraged volunteers and members of the community to find out what the clubs have to offer.
“It is pretty amazing, if you will just come over and walk through the building sometime, to speak with some of the kids and see what is going on,” Hixson said. “They will get in your heart. Once they get in your heart, they’ve got ya.”
Volunteers, employees, board members and those associated with the clubs received awards as a part of Monday night’s banquet.
Those who received volunteer awards included: Ruth Cronan, Shawn Kent, Emma Leigh Evors, Danielle Henry, Alicia Sutton, Street Reach [team], Katie Rinaudo and Ashley Jones.
Employee awards were given to Cheryl Stander for five years of service; Mike Thompson for 10 years of service; Carl Porter for 15 years of service; and Charles Sutton for 20 years of service.
Board members who received awards for loyal and dedicated service to youth included Rob Alderman for five years; John Miles for five years; Lamar Arp for 15 years and Johnny Holden for 45 years.
Distinguished awards were given to Janey Cooke, Champion of Young Women award; Hixson, Champion of Youth award; and Eddie Cartwright, Bill Creech award. Hixson also received the Tennessee Board Member of the Year award.
Holden was also recognized for the Jeremiah Milbanks Award. Mark Ross, chief professional officer, presented the National Medallion award to Holden’s daughter, Christy Holden Petty. Holden was unable to make the banquet due to a work schedule conflict.
New board members include: George Gray, Alex Everley, Duane Parker, Jan Runyon and Buster Stuart.
Festivities came to a close with Hixson passing the gavel to Shane Lawson as the new chief volunteer officer.
“I serve on the board because the kids matter to me,” Lawson said. “If you are serving on this board for any other reason than supporting the vision and mission of this club, then you are on the wrong board.”
Continued Lawson, “So board, it is our mission to give hope and opportunity to our kids. We cannot do this alone. We need to work together to meet the needs of our kids and our staff. To provide them with a world-class experience, we’ve got to work together as a team.”