Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint Receives New "Rock Financial and Detroit Shock" Teen Center
The WNBA Champion Detroit Shock women’s professional basketball team, Rock Financial and the Deanna Nolan Foundation unveiled the organization’s 15th Live, Learn and Play Center – the “Rock Financial and Detroit Shock Teen Center” – at the Flint club as part of WNBA Cares and Read to Achieve on May 15.
As part of the grand opening, the Flint mayor’s office proclaimed May 15 as “Detroit Shock Day.” The entire Shock team, including Head Coach Bill Laimbeer and Assistant Coach Rick Mahorn were in attendance. Mahorn, Nolan and Shannon “Pee Wee” Johnson participated in a panel discussion on how area teens can overcome obstacles. Also participating in the panel were two other Flint natives – Rock Financial President Patrick McInnis and Deanna Nolan’s mother, Virginia Nolan. WNBA legend, Olympic gold medalist and former Shock great Jennifer Azzi moderated the discussion. The team mascot ZAP was also present to tip-off the grand opening.
The Boys and Girls Club received a completely redesigned and reconstructed teen center including a much-needed paint job, new carpet, wood flooring designed as a Shock/Pistons basketball court, new furniture and resources for college and career training. The teen center also received a new 1000-watt stereo system, a disco ball, strobe lighting, TV and video game decks and a new Pistons pool table as a result of the project. Finally, the club’s full-sized gym received a makeover, including repainting in the Shock/Pistons team colors: red, white and blue.
Mark Serra, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint development director, believes the club’s membership will increase due to the revamped teen center. “Number one, it’s extremely unique,” Serra said. “There is nothing else like it in Michigan, let alone in Flint. People really like to tie themselves in with something cool like the Shock and the Pistons. I really think that kids will get interested fast. They are going to want to come and they’ll want to keep coming back.”
Two Flint-area students, Jonathon Ferguson and Stacey Bush, spoke at the ceremony. Bush, the 2007 Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year, said she could not believe her eyes when she first saw the teen center.
“I was speechless when I came into the teen room,” Bush said. “I wasn’t able to pick up my jaw. It’s just incredible that we have something so magnificent. What Rock Financial and the Shock team did was just awesome.”
Nolan also acknowledged what the teen center means to her and the Flint community. She said when she grew up in Flint, she never had a place even remotely like the new-and-improved teen center.
Mahorn believes the renovated teen center could bring great change.
“It’s encouraging for a lot of the young kids to understand that someone cares about them,” Mahorn said. It’s good to show kids they have an outlet instead of being on the streets.”
McInnis also sees a bright future ahead for the Flint children.
“We wanted to get involved with a project that would have a significant and lasting impact on the city of Flint,” McInnis said. “With this renovation project, we are providing resources that are in great need by teens in this community, and we are proud that the Rock Financial and Shock Teen Center will undoubtedly affect the youth of this city in a positive way. It’s a great opportunity to create hope for young kids and give them a safe learning environment. We approached the Shock and the team agreed to participate, and so it’s created a tremendous opportunity for the kids in Flint.”
The impact made in the Flint community by the renovated Boys and Girls Club Teen Center would not have been possible without the support by Rock Financial and the Detroit Shock. Maggie Glenn, WNBA League community relations representative, said the Detroit Shock and other WNBA teams are committed to giving back to the community and the Rock Financial and Shock renovation project is a great example on how WNBA teams make a difference for children, teenagers and the rest of the community.
Flint Natives Get the Assist
Nolan, the 2006 WNBA Finals MVP, led Flint Northern High School to back-to-back Michigan High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) State Championships in 1994 and 1995, was named Michigan’s Miss Basketball for the 1995 MHSAA season and earned an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Georgia. Nolan is also currently working to raise funds for a new playground at Flint’s Brownell Elementary School.
“Growing up in Flint, I know firsthand that the teens here need this new center,” said Nolan, the Shock’s guard and three-time WNBA All-Star. “The Rock Financial and Detroit Shock Teen Center will be a safe place for teens to hang out, have a good time and know that they have choices in life.”
McInnis also grew up in Flint, where he played on the Flint Powers football team that competed for the state championship in 1984. He played fullback at Eastern Michigan University before joining Rock Financial/Quicken Loans, where he is president and also chief learning officer, overseeing sales training and leadership development for the company's 4,700 employees. McInnis also is involved with Flint Athletes for Better Education and a frequent speaker at his alma mater.
Both Nolan and McInnis were instrumental in getting the “Rock and Shock” project off the ground, as both understood the magnitude of this project for the city.
A Championship Project
The team commissioned significant construction work at the outset. The club had a loft that was primarily being used as storage in the teen room, but was accessible only through the use of a ladder. Rock Financial and the Detroit Shock constructed a new staircase to a loft and designed it as a “café” so youth could have a casual atmosphere to call their own. A newly constructed window in the upstairs café overlooks the gymnasium.
The club also received a new “Teen Resource Room” via the construction that took place in early January. The Resource Room features college and career preparatory materials that Flint teens can use as they prepare for life beyond high school.
“It’s amazing that only four years ago, this building was vacant,” said Jamie Gaskin, the club’s executive director. “With broad community support and lots of hard work, we have made this a great place for kids of all ages to hang out. The new Rock Financial and Detroit Shock Teen Center will especially help to strengthen our appeal to area teens. We are amazed by this project.”
Flint Night at The Palace
Continuing its efforts to give back to the Flint community, Rock Financial and the Shock announced at the ceremony that Tuesday, May 22 will be “Flint Night” when the Shock faces the Minnesota Lynx at 7:30pm. Through tickets purchased by Rock Financial, Flint residents can go to the following Halo Burger locations to pick up a ticket voucher and attend the game free of charge: G-3388 S. Linden Rd.; G-4451 W. Pierson Rd; 800 S. Saginaw; or 3805 E. Court St.
The Rock Financial and Detroit Shock Teen Center was made possible by Rock Financial, Air Master, Lennox, Belle Tire, T&C Federal Credit Union, Medical Weight Loss Clinic, Detroit Medical Center, National City and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
About the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint
About Rock Financial. Rock Financial is a Quicken Loans Company. Quicken Loans Inc. consists of Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online retail mortgage lender and Rock Financial, Michigan’s largest mortgage company. Employing more than 4,700 people, the company has been ranked in the “Top 20” of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” list for four consecutive years, and #1 on Computerworld’s list of “100 Best Places to Work in Technology” for the past two years. Visit www.RockFinancial.com for more information. For more information about a career with Rock Financial or Quicken Loans, visit www.QuickenLoansCareers.com.
What Others Said About the Renovated Teen Center
- Jonathan Ferguson (student speaker): “I come everyday to the Boys and Girls Club everyday, but I think I’ll be coming to the new room most of the time now. It wasn’t very nice before, but it’s incredible how good it looks now.”
-Bill Laimbeer (Shock Head Coach): "It’s always nice to be able to participate and give back to the community, especially for the ladies of the WNBA. They are very into having the opportunity to get out and mingle with the young kids and to try and be role models for them."
-Tom Wilson (Palace Sports & Entertainment President and CEO): "We try to be all about giving back to community, it’s one of the core values that we have here. We are so lucky, as Rick Mahorn said, to be role models. In some organizations, players run from that - we try to embrace it. We try to tell that to our players, too, that what their messages can be are so meaningful to young people. As long as we do, we have an obligation to give back, do the right thing and set a good example.
"So many times now in our inner cities, we need a place just to escape to, and it’s fun to come here and play pool. It’s also fun to play basketball and to work on the computers. It’s an opportunity to do things you just can’t do at home or at school, and more than anything, it keeps you off the streets a little bit, keeps you out of trouble and gives you a way to get thru one more day. This is a great way to escape from some of the realities of life.
"Rock Financial is the best partner we have ever had, because they not only understand our athletic mission, they understand the commitment to the community not only through their own company but in partnership with us..."
Michael Vance (Special Projects Coordinator Flint): "The city of Flint and the Mayor Don Williamson, is thankful and grateful that the sponsors are willing to put forth their money and made this project go forward."
Jamie Gaskin (Executive Director of Flint Boys & Girls Club): "The thing the teen center really does is give us a unique place for our teens to have to call their own. We get them in the door by playing pool and video games, but then we can move them into the learning center area, and really give them opportunity to find out about college and about furthering their careers."
Jennifer Azzi (Former Shock Player): "One of the things I remember about playing here was how involved the team and the organization are in the community both on the Shock side and the Pistons side, so its impressive to come back here a few years later and see how much that it’s progressed. This facility is incredible. I’m definitely blown away by how much time and effort and love that has been put into this. It gives these kids really somewhere to dream, hope and become anything."
Kayla Byrd (Flint Northern High School student): "Its beautiful...the pool table, the TV'S, the colors. Now people don't have to worry about not having a computer so they can just come up here and do reports. I think it’s a great learning environment."
Wendy Kemp (Rock Financial community relations director): "I cannot tell you how good it feels. This is what it means to make a difference. This gives them hope and shows them somebody cares."
FOLLOWUP AFTER EVENT
Serra: "It’s everything we expected and more. People were so excited to see what's happening, and I think that feeling is going to resonate though the community. To see everyone’s reaction to the room was exactly what we were hoping."
Patrick McInnis (Rock Financial President): "The energy is absolutely inspiring. It creates feeling of excitement to see these kids have an opportunity to learn and grow, and you can see it in their face, and to me that’s inspiring."