BERKELEY, CA – On a warm evening in downtown Berkeley, with the strains of jazz played by Berkeley High School musicians coming from the Crystal Ballroom at Hotel Shattuck Plaza, BOSS gathered with sponsors and supporters, elected officials, volunteers and service partners, and most importantly, with the young people being honored at our 5th Annual Rising Stars Youth Leadership Gala!
With their proud family members, young people being honored in five categories – Consistency, Caring for Family, Role Model, New Direction, and Community Involvement – were greeted with a special Rising Star lapel pin and a printed program, and took their seats as the community gathered and visited the Silent Auction tables at the perimeter of the ballroom, with great items donated by Berkeley Repertory Theater, Pier 39, Pixar, Urbano Cellars and many others. Youth were nominated by BOSS, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Technology Academy, and Berkeley Youth Alternatives.
With a delicious buffet dinner from Hotel Shattuck and colorfully decorated cupcakes baked for the occasion by volunteer Cake4Kids bakers to fortify guests, the program began with a welcome from our long-time event Emcee Leslie Stovall of California Music Channel, who thanked sponsors (including Kaiser Permanente, Tileshop, Mechanics Bank, Nonstop Wellness and others) and congratulated our young awardees, followed by a special video (created by long-time event sponsor Malaga Corp.) showcasing their stories.
Pastor Tanisha Walton of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley led us in a stirring invocation, setting the tone for an evening of pride, hope and celebration. She was followed to the stage by local hip hop-jazz pianist and music historian Kev Choice (who will be performing at Yoshi’s on July 1st to celebrate the release of his new album!), for a special performance that spoke to the struggles and the strengths of these youth.
BOSS Executive Director Donald Frazier took the stage to share a few thoughts about the event at its five year milestone, followed by Youth keynote Rayven Wilson, a 2016 Rising Stars awardee, who shared her thoughts on what the award has meant to her, and the hard work that still lies ahead for our newest awardees – as well as her encouragement to them to keep on the path they’re on!
Rayven was followed by Keynote speaker Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who shared his own triumphs as the son of immigrant farm workers who worked hard and was elected Berkeley’s first Latino mayor and youngest mayor in a century. He shared the love and support of everyone in the room, letting the graduates know that we are here for them – and want them to succeed!
Kev Choice returned to the stage for a second uplifting performance, before Leslie turned the stage over to Tasha Henneman, District Director for State Senator Nancy Skinner, who was with us on behalf of the Senator (who was in Sacramento) to present a very special award – the first Parents Award, to the parent of one of our Rising Stars (Sofia Rashid), who was nominated for the intense extra effort they had put in to give their awardee every chance possible for success. Sofia’s mom Milany Salvatory was presented with a certificate from the Senator, and a cash award. She was overcome with emotion, thanking everyone from the bottom of her heart, and saying “I never would have expected something like this.”
And then it was time for the reason for our gala…presentation of the 2018 Class of Rising Stars – Meteor Cohort! Presented by Tasha Henneman and Gregory Magofna of East Bay for Everyone, the Rising Stars received certificates of recognition from the offices of US Congress Member Barbara Lee, State Senator Nancy Skinner, State Assembly Members Tony Thurmond and Bill Quirk, and Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, as well as gift bags with items from BOSS, Berkeley High School, Pixar, and others, including a 7” RCA tablet!
Three awardees (and one more who was unable to attend) then received a scholarship check of $1,000 each, made possible by Rising Stars sponsors, to support their educational journey or whatever goals they are working towards. The checks were presented – with special words of encouragement to come and enroll at Berkeley City College! – by BCC Vice President of Instruction Kuni Hay.
Leslie then invited the scholarship recipients back to the stage to share a little about their plans and goals. Janay, Melissa and Alia came up, despite some initial shyness (awardees had promised they would not have to speak to receive their award!) and talked about their plans for college and their (mostly) undecided career goals – lawyer? Social worker? Politician? These young people have the passion and discipline in them to do any or all of those things, with the right kind of support from the community!
Leslie then closed the program by congratulating all the youth once again, and thanking everyone for coming. She reminded people to donate to BOSS and Rising Stars online or by text (text RISING STARS to 243725), to check the Silent Auction tables to see if they had won any items, and to join us again for Rising Stars 2019!
Thank you to everyone who sponsored, donated to, attended, and in any way supported this wonderful annual event – it would not be possible without intensive, heartfelt and collaborative efforts by the whole community!
Thank you to our SPONSORS!!
Berkeley Lions Club
Berkeley High School Development Group
Berkeley City College
Berkeley City Council
Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan
Gifts & Auction items donated by:
Aurora Theater Company
Berkeley High School
Berkeley Repertory Theater
California Academy of Sciences
Freight & Salvage
San Francisco Pier 39
Shotgun Players Theater