Gladys Knight And NJ Children Rock The Stage & Help Raise Money For The Boys And Girls Clubs

NEWARK — More than 1,800 people watched as three New Jersey 10-year-olds shined on stage as opening acts before seven-time Grammy award winner Gladys Knight performed at the Boys & Girls Club of New Jersey’s ninth annual Concert for Kids. The concert took place on Nov. 9 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

“We were thrilled to have had such a great turn out this year,” said Connie Ludwin, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey. “Not only did we raise money for the children of New Jersey, but we were also able to give back to the Lodi location that was devastated by Hurricane Irene. It is the amazing network of people that keeps this organization going strong.”

The Concert for Kids is the signature fundraiser for the statewide network of local Boys & Girls Clubs. The event this year raised more than $500,000 for the B&GC of NJ and also raised additional funds for the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi. The money to help rebuild the Lodi location, that suffered great damage from Hurricane Irene, was raised in under 30 minutes from concert-goers who participated in the “Text to Pledge” on-stage campaign.

The night included a pre-event reception for sponsors, followed by performances by local club members, Kingston Ho, Talia Maldonado, and Kayla Whiting, an address by the New Jersey Youth of the Year, Frankie Watson of the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City and the performance by Gladys Knight.

Ho wowed the crowd with his violin solo, while Maldonado and Whiting belted out Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” as a duet. The audience was beyond amazed with two performances, giving them both a standing ovation.

Each year, the Concert for Kids also honors someone who consistently works with the organization to advance its mission and goals. This year’s honoree was Jersey-born comedian and entertainer Joe Piscopo, who has been a staunch supporter and spokesperson for BGCNJ for the last three years. “The Boys & Girls Clubs are doing amazing things for our kids with very little resources and we need everyone’s help to ensure that all our kids have the opportunity to be safe and achieve their full potential”, comments Piscopo. “I am proud to be from New Jersey and proud to have an opportunity with the Boys & Girls Club to do what I can for kids in New Jersey”.

There are currently 23 local Boys and Girls Clubs across the Garden State serving more than 85,000 children, who range in age from 6 to 18. Historically, the clubs have seen tremendous growth in membership, largely because dues and fees are kept low, so no child is denied access because of an inability to pay. Recent funding cuts have had a negative impact on membership in some of the state’s most distressed areas as organizations streamline operations and reduce services in order to make ends meet.

For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs have provided programs a safe place, adult mentors and life enhancing programs to young people in need. Clubs nationwide are focusing especially on education and job training for teens in an effort to address critical issues such as high school drop-out and delinquency and gang participation and substance abuse. Clubs also provide programs in health and fitness, character and leadership, the arts, and sports and recreation.

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