Usher and Ashanti Among 2009 Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees

BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA HALL OF FAMELast night Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) inducted its 2009 Alumni Hall of Fame (AHOF) members, former Club members who have gone on to make major contributions to their respective fields and to their communities. All five outstanding individuals were honored at a special ceremony held during BGCA’s 103rd annual national conference.

This year BGCA inducted Grammy Award-winning R&B performer, Ashanti Douglas; former Chairman/CEO, Principal Financial Group and current President of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, J. Barry Griswell; former NFL tackle for Minnesota Vikings, turned Judge of the Juvenile Court in Knox, County, TN, Judge Tim Irwin; Head coach of the 2009 Super Bowl Champions Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin; and five-time Grammy Award-winner whose record-breaking Confessions album has sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S., Usher Raymond IV. BGCA also welcomed back 2005 AHOF inductee and award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance as host of this year’s ceremony.

Though from different backgrounds, geographical locations and life aspirations, all five inductees share something very special – the positive influence of a Boys & Girls Club. According to a Harris Interactive survey, 57 percent of Boys & Girls Club alumni said “the Club saved my life.” A closer examination of the 2009 inductees into the prestigious BGCA Alumni Hall of Fame proves that the Club was indeed a “positive place.”

“These individuals are shining examples of how Clubs shape the lives of young people, helping them fulfill their potential to BE GREAT – regardless of their backgrounds,” said Roxanne Spillett, president and CEO of BGCA. “We are extremely proud of our alumni, their achievements and commitments to continue serving their local communities.”

The Harris survey also revealed that 81 percent of alumni said Club participation helped them develop a sense of responsibility to their community, and an impressive 92 percent said that helping others is still a priority for them. The 2009 alumni inductees represent a wide range of professions and exhibit a genuine passion for giving back to their communities, both professionally and personally.

“This year’s class of inductees represents the power and impact a Club has not only on character and development, but also on civic engagement,” continued Spillett. “The 2009 inductees, as well as the other Alumni Hall of Fame members, are living proof that Boys & Girls Club programs work.”

AHOF inductees are central to BGCA’s new BE GREAT advocacy campaign that features Club alumni to illustrate the transformative power of a Boys & Girls Club experience and the value of the community-based organization. The campaign includes out-of-home advertising with childhood photos of a number of Club alumni, lead by national spokesperson Denzel Washington, and donated by OAAA – the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, which has chosen BGCA as the organization’s official charity.

The most recent unveiling took place last month in Atlanta, when BGCA alumni and AHOF inductee Usher revealed his BE ICONIC billboard. Later this month, the host of EXTRA and fellow AHOF member Mario Lopez will unveil his contribution to the BE GREAT campaign, a billboard in Los Angeles. This billboard will mark BGCA’s first foray into creating bi-lingual outdoor advertising.

Other distinguished members of BGCA’s Alumni Hall of Fame include Academy award-winning actor and national spokesperson for BGCA Denzel Washington, along with Muhammad Ali, Swin Cash, Gen. Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Edward James Olmos, Shaquille O’Neal, Smokey Robinson, John Singleton, Ruben Studdard, Courtney B. Vance, Mark Wahlberg and Kerry Washington.