Donzell Leon Newkirk
Club Member for 9 Years
2001 Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year
Graduate: Leesville Road High School
NC A&T State University
Occupation: 4P Product Manager for Lenovo’s ThinkVision and ThinkCentre Portfolios in North America
Co-Owner — Gentleman’s Choice Kollection
I became a member of the Raleigh Boys Club when I was 11 years old. The Club united young boys from different backgrounds that we should all have the same goals in mind, that we wanted to stay out of the streets and make a difference. There were kids from all backgrounds, single parent homes, foster care, social services, but we were treated all the same. We were taught how to stand on our own two feet and to “dream big and dare to fail.” Club Director Ron Williams was a big impact on my life, and he taught me how to fight and protect our investment, which was ourselves.
Staff members Ron Williams, Heather Brosz-White, and Rodney McClamb, along with others, taught me even when we failed at a sport or project, you could turn that failure into a lesson. I still carry that lesson with me today. The biggest impact the Club had on my life was teaching me how to respect our peers. Ron showed me how to respect everyone, and that respect is not an earned trait.
The Club shows that anyone who walks through the door has an opportunity to grow and have fun! It gives parents and guardians an environment where they can leave their children so they can learn healthy lifestyles, sports, and education along with lessons that they can carry over to adulthood. One thing that amazes me is that when I joined the Club in 1994, the membership fee was $7.50 a year and today in 2016, the membership fee is still $7.50 a year.
The Boys & Girls Clubs is here to help and enrich young lives and for me, they did that. I am a better person today for having the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization.