On March 31, surrounded by Rite Aid associates and supplier partners at this spring’s 16th annual Rite Aid Foundation Charity Golf Classic in Las Vegas, Bervin Harris, co-founder and CEO of the KidCents charity Renaissance Youth Center (RYC) accepted The Rite Aid Foundation’s inaugural KIDCHAMP℠ award.
The Rite Aid Foundation Board of Directors created this award to recognize community leaders associated with Rite Aid Foundation programs who are truly champions of children. These individuals can be a visionary, an organizer, a doer, a healer, a protector, an educator and sometimes even a savior A KIDCHAMP℠ is someone who is inspired to his or her very core, and inspires others to act. A KIDCHAMP℠is also a person whose time, talent, energy and dedication is freely given to the most fragile, vulnerable and hopeful members of our Rite Aid communities – our children.
The Rite Aid Foundation Board of Directors selected Mr. Harris to be its “inaugural” KIDCHAMP℠ for inspiring positive change for kids in the Bronx and surrounding Rite Aid communities for more than 30 years. For his service, Mr. Harris was presented with a $10,000 donation to Renaissance Youth Center, $500 in Rite Aid gift cards and a custom plaque. The honor was well-deserved, according to one Renaissance Youth Center student who said, “My relationship with Mr. Harris is sometimes professional, and sometimes it’s more of a friendship. I see him as a mentor and somebody I can learn from, and somebody who can also steer me in the right direction, particularly if I might be thinking of going in the in the wrong direction.”
The mission of the Renaissance Youth Center is to empower at-risk inner city youth to fully maximize their potential as productive and responsible members of society by offering dynamic, team-building education, music, and sports programs, all while instilling the importance of building strong communities. “I like to say we hook ‘em, then cook ‘em. We lure them in with our attractive, high-energy programs, then we ‘cook’ them with academics, social development – vital tools needed to end poverty,” said Harris.
In addition to recognizing Mr. Harris as The Rite Aid Foundation’s first-ever KIDCHAMP℠, the Foundation also sponsored and contributed to Renaissance Youth Center’s first annual gala held on May 4 at the beautifully renovated COACH headquarters in New York City. The gala celebrated all the progress RYC has made at guiding kids in the right direction and giving them the self-confidence needed to propel them to accomplish their goals. The evening was also filled with laughter and live music from the members of the New York City Police Department band who joined forces with the talented kids of RYC’s “Music with a Message” ensemble to create a truly high-energy, memorable evening.
During the event, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill was honored for his dedication in developing the neighborhood-based policing model that is renewing and recasting the NYPD’s patrol function to provide greater police and community interaction and collaboration. Renaissance Youth Center is an important member of the community in the South Bronx, and the close, mutually beneficial relationship RYC has been able to forge with the NYPD is a reflection of Commissioner O’Neill’s efforts. Also recognized were RYC board chairman Howard Altarescu and his wife Carol for their 15 years of service to Renaissance.
See below for photos from the event and check out the video that Rite Aid’s Creative Media Services Team put together to honor this wonderful organization here. And be sure to look for more information on how your KidCents charity can nominate a potential KIDCHAMP℠ for future recognition.