“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes
On Dec. 21, the Denver Chapter of Jack and Jill of America will present its 31st class of Beaus at the Annual Beautillion Gala, held at the Sheraton Downtown Denver. As in past years, this event will be a festive, magical community celebration which rivals all others (if you’ve never attend the Jack and Jill Beautillion, it is something to behold).
But even more than the tuxedos, top hats, and gowns, the celebration marks the culmination of a half-year journey for 26 African-American high school male seniors, who follow in the footsteps of over 800 Beau Alumni, keeping the legacy of achievement and the dream alive.
Each Beau is nominated by their high school counselor, and then submits an application to Jack and Jill Denver Chapter. After attending an interview with Jack and Jill moms, Beaus are selected. Long before Beautillion night, they attend workshops on subjects such and sexual health, time management, and criminal justice—very important, because by age 23, 49 percent of all American black men will have been arrested at least once, according to national survey data from 1997 to 2008.
Beaus met, once again this fall, with fifteen Beau Alums in a mentorship workshop, where Alums shared stories about the ins and outs of life after high school. Beaus also connected in smaller groups with the mentors to discuss everything from college and career choices to advice about dating.
This type of leadership and community service is indicative of Jack and Jill values, which are further integrated into the Beautillion experience through a mandatory community service project. This year, Jack and Jill Denver Chapter partnered with the Hope Center in Northeast Park Hill. Led by Executive Director, Gerie Grimes, the Hope Center provides educational and vocation programming for individuals pre-school aged to adulthood. The 2014 Beaus hosted a Project HUGS Literacy night at Hope Center, after two months of collecting over 200 HUGS packages (Hats, Underwear, Gloves, and Socks) to distribute to preschoolers ages (2-5) along with a multicultural book. Items were presented at the Hope Center in a standing room only presentation.
“We are so very proud of our Beaus for their leadership with the HUGS project,” stated Robin Lawson, President of the Denver Chapter of Jack and Jill. It was heartwarming to see them share with the children, the items they’d worked so hard to collect. They even spent time reading to the kids. I don’t know who was happier about the exchange, the preschoolers or the Beaus.”
Beaus are required to write an essay about their community service experience, and essays will be ranked by a neutral committee—the top ones will receive financial awards. These awards are often used to offset the escalating costs of college.
They have another opportunity to receive funds for college by applying for College Expense Awards, which are presented at the Beautillion Gala. Last year seven Beaus received awards, ranging from $500 to $1,000. The top award of $1,000 was matched with a $500 donation by Beau Alum Javon Brame. Brame, Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs at Community College of Aurora, is of the of the 2014 Beautillion Masters of Ceremony, and has offered a $1,000 challenge to fellow Alums and community members to offer funds to support college expense awards for this year’s Beaus! Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., Senior Pastor and Teacher of the United Church of Montbello, is also a Master of Ceremony for this year’s Beautillion presentation. Dr. Kimberly Campbell, Regina Edmondson, Heather Johnson, and Deirdre Wilson are the 2014 Beautillion Chairs.
Twenty six young ladies participate as Beautillion escorts this year. Each has volunteered to spend time learning dances and attending workshops over the past several months as well. They are an integral part of the celebration as are all you – the community!
For more information about contributing to College Expense Awards to purchase tickets to Beautillion, visit www.jack-and-jill-denver.org.
The 2014 Jack and Jill Denver Chapter Beaus
- Alfred Kenechukwu Agibim, Rangeview
- Reginald Alan Ausler, Jr., Hinkley
- Pryce Salvant Batey, Colorado Academy
- Daylen Isaac Bowen, Denver East
- Kameron Desmond Brandon, Cherokee Trail
- Isaiah Matthew Brown, Grandview
- Jaron Isaiah Brown, Hinkley
- Julian Rhamone Carey, Denver East
- Morgan Bielo Flowers, Denver East
- Derek Eugene Hawkins, Denver East
- Rico Terrell Henderson, II, Denver East
- Jeremiah Joshiah Aaron Hodges, Cherokee Trail
- Isaiah Frank Jones, Denver East
- Noah Juwon-Porter Jones, Colorado Academy
- Nasir Malik Little, Denver East
- Steven Malik McAlester, Eaglecrest
- Okiefe Onoriode Ogbe, Grandview
- Elijah Quentin Randelle Sanford, Regis Jesuit
- Rayvon Ahmad Solomon, Regis Jesuit
- Darnell Keith Steel-Tyler, Denver East
- Leonard Kenard Steel-Tyler, Denver East
- Noah Christian Tate, Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College
- Justice Nathan Taylor, Regis Jesuit
- Darian Jamal Turner, Eaglecrest
- Timothy Steven Whitlow, Grandview
- Arsean Marquez Wilbon, Cherokee Trail
Editor’s note: College Expense Awards will be presented at the Beautillion Gala to Beaus selected by a neutral committee. If you would like to contribute to these financial awards so that more young men can receive money for college (any amount is welcome), visit www.jack-and-jill-denver.org.