Teen Centers at Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the nation provide teens with safe spaces, allowing them to build healthy, supportive relationships. Former Club kid Brandon Becton joined his company Aaron's to surprise his childhood Club with a teen center makeover.
Brandon Becton, Lead Custom Installer for BrandsMart USA, loves what he does because of the relationships he is able to forge with his customers.
“An install job may take as little as 5-10 minutes to complete,” Becton says. “But depending on the client, that installation may mean much, much more. That’s why I take my time on each install, open up the conversation and hear out each client. Some are without family, friends or anyone else to build a connection with. I take pride in being that listening ear because you just never know what difficulties people are experiencing.”
When Becton thinks of the impact a positive presence can have in someone’s life, he is reminded of the years he spent at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.
Growing up, Becton wondered what all of the other kids in his neighborhood were doing after school but was too shy to ask around. His grandparents introduced him to the nearest Club.
“There are good friends from the Club who I still know and am connected with to this day decades later,” says the Club alumnus. “The people, the activities, all of those things I was exposed to at the Club made a big difference. If it had not been for those experiences, I don’t think I would have the profession I have today. I might still be that quiet person unable to communicate with others.”
A naturally quiet and introverted kid, Becton often kept to himself. His Club inspired him to come out of his shell.
“I could do just as well being left alone in the corner with my G.I. Joes,” says Becton. “But the Club exposed me to different kids from all kinds of backgrounds and I was able to communicate and collaborate more effectively with others. These are skills I apply every day in the work I do.”
Teen centers at Boys & Girls Clubs create inclusive, positive spaces for youth to hang out, catch up on schoolwork and build skills to prepare them for life after high school. But for teens to want to show up day after day, teen centers need to be digitally-savvy, vibrant spaces.
That’s where Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s partner The Aaron’s Company comes in. Since 2015, Aaron’s has refreshed 60 Clubs’ teen centers with new electronics, games and furnishings to build spaces teens want to spend time in.
For Becton to return and contribute to the Broward County Club’s renovation was a labor of love.
“I was such a little kid when I first joined the Boys & Girls Club,” he says. “When I returned to assist with this renovation, I was blown away by how much had and had not changed. It felt good to give back to the same organization that made such a difference in my life.”
When Becton was a kid at the Club, there weren’t computers or flat-screen TVs. He also knows not every kid has access to such technology at home and was proud to create that accessibility for young people in his community.
When he learned that the renovations would be a complete surprise to Club members, he was even more eager to see their reaction at the changes he’d helped make.
“The looks on their faces were everything,” says Becton. “Those kids rushed toward me without hesitation. They were so smart, so outgoing. I got to hang out with them and remember what a great time I had as a youth. I got to see them enjoying themselves the way I had before. I was both impressed and humbled to be part of a company doing this. The whole experience gave me such a warm and inviting feeling.”
Boys & Girls Clubs don’t stop at giving teens a hip space to call their own. Clubs’ mental health resources for teens teach young people how to identify and manage their emotions and build resilience so they can take on every opportunity that comes their way.
Clubs also support kids and teens in building their academic skills, navigating career readiness as they prep for graduation, and building healthy habits for life.
“At the Club, I realized I didn’t need to be alone in anything I did,” says Becton. “I’d like all of those brilliant young people I met to understand the same. They’ve got support at their Club. They’ve got resources. They’ve got mentors. They’ve got each other. Nothing is impossible and nothing is beyond their reach with all of that in their corner.”
When school is out, Clubs are in – ensuring America’s youth have a safe place to go, caring adults who listen, and a support system they can count on. At the Club, kids and teens enjoy fun and friendship while building skills to support their success. Join us in our mission of helping all youth reach their potential.
The Aaron’s Company is proud to be a longtime partner to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Specializing in the sale and lease of home furnishings, appliances, electronics and accessories, the Atlanta-based organization has invested nearly $11 million in helping kids and teens build bright, healthy futures through membership at their local Boys & Clubs.