A ‘rising star’ is a beautiful, sometimes forgotten or invisible, point of light in the sky that rises steadily higher towards a place of greater visibility and prominence. Here on earth below the sky, most stars in the human constellation need a little help and guidance to reach the heights they want to reach.
The same can be said about the young people who were honored at BOSS’s First Annual Rising Stars Youth Leadership Gala on Thursday, June 5, 2014. Held at the Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley from 6-8 pm, this group of young survivors and achievers left no doubt that they are already stars, as they continue to rise and work towards their designed purpose and goals in life.
In partnership with Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA), Berkeley High School (BHS), and Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA), BOSS nominated and honored 20 young people for resilience, hope, courage, and strength. Those in attendance were honored and inspired to celebrate how gracefully and successfully they have met—and continue to meet—life’s most difficult challenges.
As the doors opened, BOSS welcomed the awardees, along with their friends and family, mentors/mentees, BOSS staff and Board of Directors, BYA, BTA, BHS staff, teachers, artists, political, religious guests, donors and sponsors for a celebration of our youth who are shaping bright futures against the odds. Youth were honored in 5 categories: role model, caring for family, consistency, new direction, and community involvement.
The room was filled with color, and decorated with the star theme—star balloons, stars on tables, stars lined the walkway to the church and lots of inspiring quotes. As guests arrived, a quartet from the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz Band played selections of classical music. Throughout the evening, there was plenty of delicious donated food, juice, and desserts. BOSS asked guests to write a special message of hope and inspiration and posted these on Twitter all evening (#BOSSRisingStars).
Welcoming remarks were made by the Mistress of Ceremonies Leslie Stoval, from radio station KPFA and California Music Channel, who also introduced Reverend Byron Williams, from Resurrection Community Church, for the invocation. Reverend Williams left us with thought-provoking and heartfelt messages about those who have come before us and the importance of solidarity, love, and human kindness within our communities.
Stoval then introduced performer Reese Matik who entertained the guests through his special style of rap/hip-hop, followed by a keynote address by Iris Stegman. Iris, a former resident of BOSS’s Ursula Sherman Village program and participant in the after-school Children’s Learning Center, is now attending college. She spoke of the challenges she faced and overcame as a homeless youth, with English not being her first language. She was grateful for the opportunity to speak and to share her story, and she made it clear that if it had not been for her teachers, parents, and mentors from the shelter, her outcome may have been different. She emphasized to her peers that through perseverance, focus, and dedication, circumstances change for the better, and she encouraged them to continue to build on what they’ve already accomplished in spite of the odds against them.
Following a moving video introduction of the youth to be honored, Stoval introduced the presenters, Berkeley Council member Linda Maio and Sbeydeh Viveros, Senior Aide to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. Maio and Viveros presented each youth with a Rising Star plaque and a certificate from the City. Each honoree also received a gift bag and a special gift from Courageous Women Association. Four of the twenty awardees received a special monetary award of $1,000 towards their educational advancement, made possible by event sponsors.
Following another hip hop performance, this time by The Homey Nolte, a prize drawing was held. Donald Frazier, BOSS Executive Director, drew the tickets for the prizes, including gift certificates from lots of generous local donors and businesses.
Finally Dan Scarola, BOSS Board Vice President, thanked all guests and sponsors, with a special thanks to our awardees. A deejay spun tunes as guests talked and staff packed up the star-studded décor until next year.
Congratulations to all 2014 Rising Stars honorees – and to all who helped make it an evening to remember. We will stay in touch with these young people, as they work towards their goals. We want them to know that we have an ongoing interest in their well-being, quality of life, and futures!
See you next year!
To sponsor Rising Stars 2015, donate food or goods, or volunteer, contact Sonja or Gwen at (510) 649-1930.
Thank you, Sponsors & Donors from our 2014 First Annual Rising Stars Gala!
Regulus ~ HEART OF THE LION
Design services donated by: Malaga Corp.
Prize drawing, youth gift items, and supplies donated by: Berkeley Stamp & Engraving Company, Berkeley Repertory Theater, Bette’s Diner, Blaisdell’s Business Products, California’s Great America, California Academy of Sciences, City of Berkeley, Golden Gate Fields, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Pier 39, The Natural Grocery Company, Toshonna Ross, Walgreens, Excellent Packaging & Supply