Category Events

The 2022 Youth of the Year Luncheon presented by Lake Michigan Credit Union was a great success! Our audience enjoyed celebrating our amazing candidates, including our 2022 Youth of the Year winner, Jacqueline Calderon!

With the amazing generosity of our attendees and others, we raised a total of $38,495 to go right toward programming and other needs at our Clubs. Your support is vital to ensuring that kids in our community have a safe place to go – a place to truly belong. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids announced Jacqueline Calderon (18 years old) as the 2022 Youth of the Year. Calderon received $1,000 in scholarships from presenting sponsor Lake Michigan Credit Union after competing among other Grand Rapids-based youth.

The Youth of the Year is an annual event that honors exceptional Club members who display outstanding character and leadership skills, excel academically, and who give back to their communities. It is the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program that celebrates young people ages 14-18 for their commitment to community service, academic success, good character and citizenship, and establishing long-term goals.

“The Clubs has certainly impacted my life. It’s given me a chance to discover a few things I probably would not have discovered if I had not stepped through those doors. I’ve learned about parts of me I never knew existed and have grown as a leader,” said Calderon. “As the Youth of the Year, I believe I can represent the youth of America by showing what it’s like to see everyone and anyone as who they are authentically. I want to demonstrate that we can make this world a better place together. I appreciate this opportunity to share what I believe in with my community.”

Calderon competed among four other youth including: Earnest Robinson, Javeonn Morgan, and Justyce McIntosh. Each candidate will receive $500 in scholarships for their participation, courtesy of Lake Michigan Credit Union.

“Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Club member can receive and we are so proud of Jackie for earning this prestigious title,” said Patrick Placzkowski, the CEO of the BGCGR. “Every child has a home at the Boys & Girls Clubs and we are humbled that they choose to spend their time with us. We remain committed to preparing each youth for their bright futures and cannot wait to see what they accomplish.”   

The Youth of the Year was determined by a panel of judges. Judges reviewed applications, speeches, interviews and rated criteria based on home & family, moral character, community, school, service to the Club, life goals and obstacles overcome. The mission of the BGCGR is to enhance the character of youth through recreation, education and other positive experiences in partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department.

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Our online Fine Art Auction is now LIVE!

Check out all of the beautiful artwork available for you! We have pieces ranging in value from $75 up to $2,800- with lower starting bids! The best part? 100% of the proceeds go to our much-needed programs and services for kids in our community.

Bidding ends Sunday, December 19 at 7:00 pm- just in time for the holidays. PLUS enjoy 20% off framing at Frames Unlimited, AND for every piece framed, they will donate $20 back to the Clubs!

Questions? Contact Kristin Griffes at

Happy bidding!


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This summer marks the end of an era at the Seidman Center as longtime GRPD officer Michael Harris is retiring after 25 years of service.  Harris, a fixture at the Boys and Girls Club, was one of three officers from the community engagement unit of the GRPD assigned to the organization.

For Officer Harris, this role was all about relationships- with fellow officers, with community partners, but most importantly, with the kids.

Reflecting on his years of service, Officer Harris emphasizes the role Officer Percy Brown, his mentor and predecessor at the Seidman Center.

“Before I came on as the Officer at the Seidman Center, I used to volunteer as a coach in the building. It was Officer Percy Brown who convinced me to come on the community engagement team and work with the young people at the Boys & Girls Clubs in an official capacity.”

It was this pivotal moment that determined the course of his career with the GRPD, a moment that Officer Harris describes as a “work of God.”

 “Building relationships between police departments and communities is so important,” Harris remarked. “I think I had so much success in this role because I can relate so well to these kids. When I see these kids at the club, it’s like looking in a mirror.” Harris went on to describe his upbringing in Grand Rapids and his deep conviction to give back to his community.

His decision to give back to our community’s young people was of immense consequence.

His long and successful career is a testament to the impact that meaningful partnerships between police departments and the community can have in the lives of young people. Throughout the years, Officer Harris designed innovative programs, mentored hundreds of children and leveraged his deep roots in the community to enrich the lives of our members.

Officer Harris’ sports programs instilled character values that continue to reverberate throughout the community. His programs promoted discipline, academic excellence and were committed to helping our members become well rounded individuals.

“We put teams together for both boys and girls of all ages. We got the kids national exposure, and many of them took their careers to the next level,” Mike said about the sports programs he led at the club.

Beyond the sports programs, Officer Harris made it his mission to build relationships between young people and the Grand Rapids Police Department through the creation of programs like Pathways to Policing. This program and others like it give the kids hands on training in police work and exposed them to the daily life of a police officer.

“It’s critical that kids understand that cops are just people out there trying to do the right thing and vice versa.” Harris said.  

While we are grateful for Officer Harris’ service to the Boys and Girls Clubs and our continuing relationship with the Grand Rapids Police Department, we are thrilled about Officer Harris’ new role in the organization. Officer Harris has agreed to come on as a part time youth development professional where he’ll continue the critical work he’s been doing for so long. And with Officer Harris departing his official role with the Grand Rapids Police Department, we are excited to build on the legacies of Officers Harris and Brown with the new officer that the GRPD assigns to the Seidman Center.

With the continued support of the GRPD, we will work together to build enduring relationships and sustainable programs between the police and our community.

Best wishes to Officer Harris!

Photos by: Kymara Stevenson

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Last week, we were finally able to host a revised version of our Be You Wellness Day! Our kids were able to participate in activities meant to improve their health including yoga, cooking, painting and crafts. Each attendee also signed a pledge to take something they learned and put it into practice. Thank you to the Kent County Medical Alliance Society Foundation for their generous support of our Be You Wellness Day!

Photos by: Kymara Stevenson

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On Tuesday, March 10, nearly 300 people filled the room at our 2020 Youth of the Year Luncheon to support our four candidates – Larissa Clay, Dymond Cummings, Marvin Johnson and Myaja Dunning. These young people all did an amazing job over the past few months preparing essays and speeches, and sharing their stories with hundreds of supporters.

We proudly announced our 2020 Youth of the Year winner… Myaja Dunning!

The luncheon raised more than $60,000 to go toward programming and other important needs at our Clubs. We couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of support to provide kids in our community a safe place to go after school where they can get the support, encouragement and resources they need to reach their full potential.

Thank you to our sponsors: Lake Michigan Credit Union, Meijer, First National Bank of Michigan, Kitchen 67, Redi Rental, Eastern Floral, Malone IT, and Studio Phrene.
Thank you to our judges: Don Bratt, Brenda Duong, Monica Sparks and Trey Conner.
Also thank you to the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Foundation for their generous matching challenge gift, and to Monica Sparks for her keynote speech!

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Larissa Clay

  • Sophomore at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 5 years
  • Interested in a career as a pediatrician

“To me, the Boys & Girls Club means support. I am supported by the staff and my friends when I’m at the Club. After coming to Steil for so long I feel more comfortable and I am able to be more involved. The Steil Club has become my home away from home. There are chances for homework help, plenty of new opportunities, and a place for relationships to grow.”

Dymond Cummings

  • Freshman at Kellogsville High School
  • Seidman Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a dance choreographer

“It’s been eight years since I first stepped foot in a Boys & Girls Club. Since I’ve been attending the Boys & Girls Club, I have built relationships with the staff. I have participated in various club activities and I have even and I have even had several leadership roles. I will be telling you about my experience within the club and how those experiences have shaped me into the person I am.”

Myaja Dunning

  • Freshman at Kent Innovation High School
  • Paul I. Phillips Club
  • Member for 7 years
  • Interested in a career as a OBGYN sonographer

“The Boys & Girls Club is very important to me because this is a safe place for all kids in Grand Rapids, Michigan to come to get out of dangerous neighborhoods. When I say dangerous neighborhoods, I mean bad friend groups, gangs, drug abuse, and homelessness. The Boys & Girls Clubs have changed me because if I did not have the support system that I have with my Mother and the Boys & Girls, I don’t know where I would be at the age of 14 years old.”

Marvin Johnson

  • Freshman at Union High School
  • Steil Club
  • Member for 8 years
  • Interested in a career as a business owner

“Spending eight years of my life attending the Club has changed me in many ways. Because of the Club, I have grown from a mischievous eight-year-old to an entrepreneurial leader and an advocate against bullying, and I have a place to do all of that, safely, with my friends.” 

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Our youth today face immeasurable challenges, especially in the neighborhoods we serve. Despite all of the obstacles, our kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids are full of passion, intellect, and capabilities for bright futures. We especially see just how incredible youth are in our 2020 Youth of the Year candidates; Larissa Clay, Dymond Cummings, Justyce McIntosh and Marvin Johnson.

Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program. It celebrates young people, ages 14 to 18, for their commitment to community service, academic success, good character and citizenship, and establishing long-term goals. Local winners receive a scholarship and go on to compete at the State and possibly Regional and National levels.  

Congratulations to our candidates for being nominated for the 2020 Youth of the Year celebration. Know that you have all the potential in the world and Boys & Girls Clubs of GR can’t wait to see what you do with it.  

Save the Date for our annual Youth of the Year Luncheon on March 10, 2020! We will be celebrating all of our candidates and announcing our 2020 Youth of the Year winner.

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