To provide services and dedication to any community is a notable accomplishment in and of itself. But to do it for 50 years is nothing short of remarkable.
The Kingman Boys and Girls Club of Washington, DC has done just that by providing educational support, counseling and sports and recreation and enrichment to thousands of young people.
So it was only fitting that KBGC celebrated its contributions and longevity this past weekend, featuring an awards banquet at Martin’s Crosswinds on Friday, a Family Fun Day at Garrison Elementary on Saturday and a cabaret on Saturday night to cap it all off.
“The two-day celebration was outstanding,” said KBGC Executive Director Aaron C Webster. “We were able to cover all bases. The awards banquet honored our staff, athletes, supporters, our board and the many volunteers. Then on Saturday, the Fun Day at Garrison gave a lot of the former members and the children a chance to have some fun with all the activities we had. And we capped it all off with the cabaret and again, there were people there who had not seen each other in years.”
The KBGC is located in northwest Washington on Kingman Place, tucked tightly in between 14th and 13th and Q and P streets.
It officially started in 1969 following the riots by Richard Peters as a means to address the needs and provide an outlet for the community following the riots.
It featured an after school program, a summer enrichment program and an athletic component that included various sports and cheerleading.
During the course of that period, KGBC has produced numerous outstanding community leaders, educators, authors, school administrators, entrepreneurs, professional athletes and even politicians.
Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 councilman and keynote speaker for the awards banquet, talked about how his experience at KBGC shaped his future.
“When I look back at my past, I can reflect on being a part of the Kingman Boys and Girls Club,” McDuffie said. “The things that I learned from people like Mr. Aaron Webster and Ed Hill, went a long way to giving me the foundation to succeed. We had a motto that we used when we played basketball there, where we said ‘Patience, Discipline, Teamwork, D.C. Pride’ in our huddles, and that became an integral part of how I have been able to operate in my career.”
He continued, ‘When you see how Mr. Webster went about making sure that everyone was taken care of and keeping this program strong and viable, it is rare. I am just grateful to have been a part of this success story. I will always be a member of the Kingman family.”
During the awards banquet, many former and current members and staff were honored for their contributions to the educational component, the counseling and guidance, contributors from the Board and athletics and sports.
Darryl Webster grew up as a member of KBGC and went on to play basketball at Coolidge High School, where he was named All-Met, and later was a standout at George Washington University, where he received his undergraduate and later his masters. He credits the organization with putting him on the right track.
“It was a known fact that I was a bit of a knucklehead during my early years,” he said. “I wanted to do things my way and was not really focused on academics. But my uncle, Aaron Webster put me on the right track, stressing hard work and dedication in academics and how it would pay off for me. He also had a way of getting my attention when I was out of line. I owe it all to the Kingman experience.”
Webster is a successful social worker in the District with young people and his children have benefited. His oldest daughter, Tiffany, has a degree from Quinnipiac and is a real estate agent; his son, Christian, is a graduate of Harvard and an assistant men’s basketball coach at Virginia Tech; and his youngest daughter, Taylor, is a senior student-athlete at Georgetown Visitation.
The Hall of Fame inductees included several former All-Met or Parade All-America selections, including former NBA star Steve Francis and former NFL player Donald Wilson.
Perhaps one of the more moving confessions came from Hall inductee Julius “Big Reds” Holt, who echoed the sentiments of many who have been influenced by the Kingman experience.
“I am so grateful and thankful to Mr. Aaron Webster and Kingman for helping shape my life,” said Holt, a Cardozo graduate who went on to have an outstanding college career in football at the University of Arizona. “Kingman was a safe haven for me. During the summers, I was the first to come down to the club and the last to leave. During the school year, I rushed to the after-school program because, there, people provided academic support that I needed, but more importantly there was a love and nurturing that helped you during that challenging part of your young life. I am forever grateful to Kingman and what it has done for me.”
Holt is the director of a youth program in Arizona that serves over 3,500 young people in a similar capacity as Kingman.