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Time for the Children Gala in Detroit: Making a Difference with Friends of the Children

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It is an honor and privilege to impact another person and make their lives better with more opportunities, and the Time for the Children Event Gala in Detroit is one of the greatest examples. I was able to attend this event last week with my colleagues and support an organization called Friends of the Children which is making generational impacts with at-risk children in the city.

Friends of the Children

Friends Of The Children Detroit 3Friends of the Children’s mission is to support at-risk children throughout their school years by setting them up with a mentor who follows them all the way to their high school graduation. With a mentor by their side, these children grow into successful young people who graduate, enroll in further education, get jobs, stay out of trouble, and deliver change to their entire families. It’s all about mentorship and love.

This organization reinforces how mentorship and guidance are essential for unlocking the full potential of our youth. Mentors can provide young people with the guidance, support, and feedback they need to turn their ideas into reality. The years leading up to high school graduation are key developmental years that greatly benefit from advice about navigating life from experienced and trustworthy people. Beyond advice, these mentors can also share their networks and connect young people with relevant resources and opportunities.

The Power of Mentorship and Support for At-Risk Youth

The highlight of the event for me was the Caregiver Spotlight, which gave well-deserved recognition to Tori Scheday, a woman who stepped in without hesitation to raise her daughter’s three children. I was touched by her story of how she and her husband quickly rose to the occasion to take care of three children who would become successful, confident, and well-adjusted young people. It is wonderful that the Friends of the Children in Detroit supported them along the way – they never had to be alone.

At Perficient, we’re deeply committed to supporting organizations like Friends of the Children in Detroit because of our strong desire to make a difference in all the communities in which we live and work. I’m delighted that this is our second year of sponsoring the Time for the Children Gala and being able to attend and participate, especially because I can see myself in so many of these children with limited means and guidance.

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I had parents who had to prioritize work to keep our household going and did not pursue any higher education. My father had an eighth-grade education, so he taught me to work hard but could not guide me in pursuing further education. Most of my peers also were lost with no direction and no guidance. My way to success was to find a mentor of my own – though not in person. Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, became my role model as I read about him and channeled his spirit into my schoolwork and activities. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I imagine he would demand excellence in both academics and athletics and so I applied maximum effort to everything that I did.

My parents thought it was odd that a nine-year-old boy would be making his bed, doing his chores without being asked, getting straight A’s, and was the athlete who was always early to arrive and late to leave.  I will tell you, though, that it was the impact of my mentor Vince Lombardi – the impact of having guidance from someone who knows how to become successful.

So, of course, I understood that feeling of hopelessness and confusion due to a lack of guidance. I can empathize with the feelings of seeing so many of my peers being lost to drugs or prison. I am so grateful that there is an organization out there stepping in to guide and support these children who are going through such hardship.

A Tribute to The Great Motor City

Firends Of The Children Detoirt 5There was no better way to close out the night than to celebrate this great city with a performance from the youth choir. The children sang many Motown songs that made us all feel proud of the great city of Detroit. It was also great seeing many leaders in the automotive industry participating and showing their support.

One of the leaders at General Motors spoke about his story, explaining how someone mentored him at college and suggested he go to a job fair where General Motors was interviewing. This mentor bought him a shirt and tie and prepared him for his interview, which would become his first step in a journey towards becoming Vice President at Cadillac. By his own merit, he is a great leader in the automotive industry today, but it was because someone believed in him that he was motivated to take that leap of faith.

Overall, this event reminds me that the time, attention, effort, and money you offer to someone else could not only impact that one person, but everyone who interacts with them. I had a great time with my teammates, and as a bonus, I learned that Lomas Brown (ex-offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions) is a wonderful and kind human and that his hand can swallow my whole arm.

Thank you Friends of the Children – I look forward to diving in and doing even more with your organization in the future!

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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