Since 2009, Denver Rotarians and Branch Rickey guests have reached into their own pockets to help fund the purchase of suits and dresses for Denver Kids, Inc. graduates. A concept originally started by Donna Hultin, this outfit was meant to serve the students through scholarship, college and job interviews. It was also a source of personal pride for each student as they donned their new look at their own high school graduation.
For most of the graduates, this would be the first real piece of clothing selected specifically for them rather than a hand-me-down from an older relative or an improvisation from a thrift store.
Recently, the Educational Counselors expressed the real impact behind these outfits. “This isn’t just an outfit. It’s a rite of passage for our students and it’s often a very emotional one for all of us that take the students to get meas- ured and fitted,” says Debbie Dawson-Thomas, Senior Educational Counselor. “We have been working with these students for years and have been through the ups and downs. This outfit is a chance for us to have some one-on- one time with the student and reflect upon the journey we have had together and the opportunities ahead of them.”
Even more, these outfits start a whole new conversation about what it means to be a young professional and a con- tributing member of the community. Perhaps we all remember our first suit. For Denver Kids, Inc. graduates and their Educational Counselor it is a memory and celebration that they will hold on to for a long time to come.
Denver Rotary’s Branch Rickey Award has served as a great public opportunity to solicit additional support for Denver Kids, Inc. and its graduating seniors. Over the past four years, this special ask for restricted dollars has generated over $16,000, all of which has been allocated to graduation/interview outfits. As Denver Kids, Inc. con- tinues to grow, so too does its graduating class. With graduation just a month away, there are still several seniors that are waiting to shop for their outfit and complete their rite of passage. If you wish to support this special moment in our student’s lives, please consider making a donation to Denver Kids, Inc. or Denver Rotary Club with Graduation Outfit written into the memo line. Donations are accepted year round.
Director of Development Denver Kids, Inc.
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"The thing about him [Branch Rickey] was that he was always doing something for someone else. I know, because he did so much for me."— Jackie Robinson