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The numbers do the talking. The Great Futures Gala held last week at the Mt. Princeton Pavilion Event Center was a resounding success. More than 180 Chaffee County supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaffee County enthusiastically packed the pavilion, all sharing a singular passion; to do right for the kids of Chaffee County.

Executive director Brian Beaulieu introduces the 2022 program for the Boys & Girls Great Futures Gala. Photo by Jan Wondra.

“We had a record number of business sponsors this year- 92,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaffee County Executive Director Brian Beaulieu. “After expenses, the Gala itself netted $35,000 for our youth development programs and financial aid program. We also had a record number of attendees at the Gala last week; 185.”

Those assembled included Boys & Girls Club investors, donors, volunteers, and friends. In addition to reviewing the past year’s successes and future goals, the program included the introduction of  Youth of the Year, Kuper Banghart as well as 2022 Club Heroes; Rob and Katie Ferris of Buena Vista, and Greg Justis of Salida.

Youth of the Year Kuper Banghart, began his freshman year at Montana State University in September. Courtesy photo.

Banghart, was unable to attend the gala to receive his honor in person for a very good reason:  he began his freshman year at Montana State University in September.

Introducing the evening’s program Beaulieu said “Everyone in this room tonight has directly or indirectly invested in our kids, our programs, and our Clubs. I say it every year, but great organizations attract great people. Our Clubs are strong because you believe in the future of kids and families in Chaffee County.”

Our Boys & Girls Club staff are the best, simply the best,” he added. “I’m inspired by your work every day because you never stop inspiring our kids and teens.”

“You mentor, you teach, you guide, you steer, you coach, you feed, you work nights, spring break, all summer… thanks for you magic, your patience, showing up and getting it done.”

Beaulieu thanked past and present board members, calling them “the backbone of Boys & Girls Clubs — who have guided us as the largest and most vital youth development organization in Chaffee County and in Central Colorado.” He called out the event team for the superb execution of the gathering.

Club Heroes Rob and Katie Ferris of Buena Vista. photo by Jan Wondra

State of the Boys & Girls Clubs 

The year 2022 marks the 17th year of Clubs in Salida and 16 years in Buena Vista. In 2022, the Boys & Girls Clubs of this county were open for a record 253 days, including 12 weeks this past summer.

“When school is out, Boys & Girls Club is in,” said Beaulieu. “For the first time in our history, we will serve over 900 youth and teens, focusing on our three priorities: academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and leadership. Our Clubs offer young people a safe place to learn and grow, emotionally and physically. We’re changing the trajectory of youth and teens’ lives every day.”

Based on the goals for youth development the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chaffee County help the county’s kids become great leaders, with a moral compass, goals, and direction.

Mt. Princeton Pavilion was filled with Boys & Girls Club supporters for the 2022 Great Futures Gala.

According to Beaulieu, no matter whether a youth goes on to college, or chooses a trade school or employment, the programs and the staff and volunteers supporting them at Boys & Girls Clubs prepare them with 21st-century workforce skills.

He stressed that the programs include science, technology, engineering, math, education, the arts, and fitness. The student’s own needs and interests are supported through caring adult professional staff and volunteers; bringing out their talents rather than hiding them.

“Our Clubs are part of the fabric of life here, especially for working families,” added Beaulieu. “I’m proud of the team we’ve built and maintained and grown over the past 17 years … as we renovate clubs, build a new Club in Buena Vista and reach more kids, more often, our county, our state and our country will benefit.”

With corporate support at an all-time high, a highlight of the evening was a video of the children thanking the businesses for their support. Lead Level Sponsoring businesses invested $6,000 or higher.

The gala ended with humor; with nationally-televised comedian Chris Voth entertaining the crowd. Voth has appeared on Last Comic Standing, Comics Unleashed, and the Late Late Show, and is a regular at Comedy Works in Denver. When not appearing in comedy shows, he teaches high school full time and has a master’s degree in English and a doctorate in education from the University of Colorado Denver.

Featured image: 2022 Club Hero Greg Justis with BGC Board Chair Duncan Campbell. Courtesy photo.