For a kid, what’s better than being celebrated by a community that wants nothing more than to see you shine?

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine’s 26th Annual Steak & Burger Dinner, held on Aug. 18, children from all walks of life took center stage as community leaders in business, sports and education gathered to mingle with club members and help raise money to support the organization.

“We have an incredible team assembled,” said Joe Spagnola, event co-chair and Boys & Girls Clubs board member. “It’s a wonderful event, and it allows the community to interact with the kids and see the great work we are doing each and every day.”

“The agency’s lifelong impact is incredible,” he went on to say. “They single-handedly change the lives of these children.”

University of Southern Maine President Glenn Cummings enjoyed meeting club members, along with Dajuan Eubanks, president of the Maine Red Claws. John Ryan, president of Wright-Ryan Construction and past president of the Boys & Girls Clubs, was joined by his wife, Jenny Scheu. Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling also attended.

As games and activities wrapped up outside of USM’s Sullivan Gym Complex in Portland, guests went into the gymnasium for dinner and a club member talent show. In longstanding tradition, the kids enjoyed dining on steak, while the adults ate hamburgers.

Ed Crockett, president of Capt’n Eli’s Soda and former Munjoy Hill club member, caught up with childhood pal Mark Franco, an attorney with Drummond Woodsum.

“We’ve been supporting this forever,” he said. “Mark and I grew up going to Boys & Girls Club. We’re Munjoy Hill kids, and we have a long-term appreciation of what the club does, and we’re happy to support it.”

“Portland is a unique city for everyone,” said Deya Ibrahim, club member and a musician with Port City Rockers, one of three groups performing at the talent show, which also included South Portland Singers and Pihcintu.

“Everybody feels happy and welcome. The people are so nice here,” he went on to say, smiling and excited about his performance. “Maine, it’s my country. Portland is my second heart.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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