Boys & Girls Club
Oscar Night Gala shines big spotlight
by Bradley Hartsell
On March 1, the Newnan-Coweta Boys & Girls Club hosted its seventh annual Oscar Night Gala at the Newnan Centre, as 330 attendees raised more than $75,000 for the at-risk children and teens in the community.
“The gala is an annual fundraiser. It’s where the community comes in to a black-tie affair, to get to see what the club means to the community,” said the club’s senior executive director, Daryl Smith. “This year was special because it was done before Oscars, I guess you’d say, pre-Oscar night. We brought back alumni to give out Oscars.”
Smith said the highlight of the evening was hearing the kids and adults speak about what the club means to them.
“It was a real special moment,” he said.
West Georgia Technical College Culinary Arts, led by instructor Chef Tricia Vera, prepared food and served the guests for the evening, which landed Vera and dual-enrolled Jameke Brownlee an Oscar.
“This was probably the best Oscar night we’ve had,” Smith said. “People came in, mixed and mingled on the red carpet. Toward the end of the night, there was a dance and a silent auction. We had former club member Alec Ogletree [linebacker for St. Louis Rams, Newnan High School graduate] donate cleats.”
“It was very diverse, culturally and generational, with all the parents and former club parents,” Smith added.
Smith says the goal of the club is to be a premier facility of youth development.
“The reason to bring the alumni for the Oscar night is to show success in the real world,” said Smith. “We have alumni anywhere, from Piedmont, the Air Force to T-Mobile. We want to teach character, leadership, healthy lifestyles, how to become pillars of the community.”
Smith said in the past 14 years NCBGC has achieved a 98 percent graduation rate, and the club keeps adding to its “wall of fame,” to highlight its success stories. The club has military alumni, college and professional athletes.
“A lot of people talk about the challenges in academics, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency,” explained Smith. “The club addresses those issues and steers these kids to healthy lifestyles. We get them ready for college, sports opportunities and prepare them for the world and to learn responsibility.”
To Smith, the Oscar gala was a spotlight on the good the club has done in its time in the community.
“We give a child a hope to know they can make it in life, whatever they decide to do. We show them hope and reassurance they’re not going to be a statistic but a success,” he said, adding working with parents is one of the most gratifying aspects of working with the club. “It takes the parents pitching in, too, along with the club.”