Mr. Washington goes to, uh, Washington…

Myself, and several of my colleagues, were invited to bring a select few of our members to Capital Hill for the launching of the Boys & Girls Club of America`s new national initiative, hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington as well as numerous “brass” from the national office.

We left fairly early in the morning, to try to beat the “rush hour” traffic, and also allow a bit of time for some meandering around the nation`s capital. As the first official member of the new Boys & Girls Club at Admiral Oaks, my daughter Gaelynn came with me to represent her peers in Annapolis.

Mr. Washington is the national spokesman for the Boys & Girls Club, citing its positive influence and guidance in helping him become a successful and mature adult.

For a campaign as comprehensive and ambitious as BE GREAT, the socio-political nerve center of this country seemed a perfect launching point.

While my colleagues were rather star-struck in his presence, I stood off to the side a bit… sizing the man up, if you will. I soon found myself engaged in conversation with a young man standing next to me, that I quickly discovered to be Denzel`s eldest son… which then led to my being face-to-face with the man himself. No crowds, no photographers… just me and Denzel, each of us accompanied by our firstborn.

Now, I`ve met a few celebrities in my day… enough, at least, to possess a certain composure of relatively relaxed posture. I`ve played catch with Dan Marino, shook hands with a couple presidents (and two presumptive nominees), and I`ve maintained an intermittent but steady correspondence with one of the more irascible musician/writers of my age in a certain fellow named Henry.

So, in meeting with Denzel Washington, I felt more interested in engaging him in his ideas about this program than gushing about how dynamic a Don Pedro he played in Much Ado About Nothing or the glowering intensity of coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans.

My associates later told me that they could not believe how “together” I was when talking to him, even pressing him for further explanation on a few certain points. An issue that became quite a point of humor and good-natured mockery once we returned to our main office.

All in all, I found him to be as charming and as sincere as the image he puts across in the various media. A seeming man of conviction, in an industry where such men seem rare.


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