In late-April, nearly 80 teens from around Richmond, many of them enrolled at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, attended the annual “For You I Will” Ball at The Robinson Theater and Cultural Arts Center. This event is the culmination of an 8-week “For You I Will” program at The Club that aims to teach teenagers about building healthy relationships, marriages and families through open group discussions, guest speakers, and engaging exercises.
This year, “First Things First of Greater Richmond” was a collaborating partner for the Club’s “For You I Will” program.
For the first time ever, the also included youth from several local organizations and schools, including Church Hill Academy, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, Elijah House Academy, and East End Fellowship Youth.
For the two private schools, this event served as their Prom, to the joy of their students as prior to this year, their schools had never had a “prom.”
Part of this year’s Ball also included a limousine tour of the city that a group of Club members won for their participation in this year’s “For You I Will” Club programming.
“Each was dressed in their nicest dress and most genuine smile,” said Paul Granger, Teen Director at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.
After filing in to the venue, dinner was served.
“Everyone in attendance enjoyed a delicious meal among friends.”
Once dinner was over, Khidhra Smith, co-founder of “The A-team,” spoke and shared her experiences. “The A-team” works to educate and empower youth concerning the option of abstinence.
“She made it clear that, ultimately, every one of them had a responsibility concerning their own relationships,” said Granger.
After Smith spoke, all the teens were asked to get on their feet and learn a few Mambo moves, guided by the gifted Rachel Brown, a University of Richmond Bonners Scholar who has been teaching dance and running a program with the teens at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, and her assistant Becca Granger, who often volunteers for teen events.
“It was amazing seeing Rachel teaching steps with over 70 teens following her every move and several were excited to learn a ballroom dance.”
Then the Ball and party started, courtesy of Kristen Betts, AKA DJ Such-n-Such, of Cross Movement Records’ Level 3:16.
“Many of the teens knew the DJ from this past January’s “Revamp 2011” concert, and she exceeded their expectations,” Granger said.
“She really made the most of her gift of being able to get teens active on the dance floor, without using any negative or inappropriate songs and she had them doing many of the current popular dances, as well as some older ones.”
“The teens were so engaged that we were happy to extend the Ball.”
As is custom at the “For You I Will” Ball, door prizes were given away for “Best Dressed” and teens from each organization and school participating were chosen based on character to receive awards for “Prince” and “Princess”; and among The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club teens, a “Ms. For You I Will”, “King”, and “Queen” were chosen.
Best Buy on Laburnum Avenue in Richmond kindly donated the door prizes.
“At the end of the night, we realized that the event had been a huge success, mostly based on the words and smiles of the teenagers, said Granger.
“For one evening, they were dressed in their best, treated with class to dinner and dancing, and equipped with skills and encouragement to make healthy relationship decisions.”