It was 20 years ago today that Denzel Washington graciously agreed to be National Spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The announcement came on The Arsenio Hall Show, the then-popular national late-night talk show. We could not be more grateful for Denzel’s ongoing celebration of Clubs.
Denzel knows firsthand the life-changing difference the Club can make in a kid’s life. At age 6, he joined the Boys Club of Mt.Vernon, N.Y. There, Club director Billy Thomas instilled in Denzel that, with dedication and hard work, he could achieve anything he set his mind to. At Billy’s request, past members who went on to college would bring him school pennants. Hung in a hallway near the gym, the pennants inspired Denzel and his fellow members that they, too, could become college students.
A two-time Academy Award winner, Denzel has used his celebrity to raise unprecedented awareness of Clubs. In interviews, he always mentions the positive impact the Club Experience has had on his life, including, for instance, recent cover stories in Delta Sky magazine and AARP: The Magazine.
His personal contributions to Boys & Girls Clubs are staggering. They include appearances in five public service announcements, donating all proceeds of his best-selling book on mentoring to Clubs, and stirring audiences as keynote speaker at National Youth of the Year ceremonies.
Since 1996, Denzel has served on our Board of Governors. He is a member of the BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2004, we presented Denzel with our highest volunteer honor, the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award. I’m not sure how else to pay tribute to this selfless, accomplished individual, so I’ll simply end with our heartfelt gratitude.
On behalf of the nearly 4 million kids served at some 4,000 Clubs and affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations: Thank you, Denzel, for 20 incredible years.