Boys & Girls Club Alumni Spotlight: Darien Washington

I grew up attending the Eastside Boys & Girls Club in St. Cloud. The Club showed me that it was good to have a curious spirit, and it instilled in me the tools and confidence to ask questions, and the life skills to navigate new spaces with kindness and respect. Thanks to the Club and the staff, I keep those values near and dear to my heart.

One of my favorite memories was when Carissa Prasch introduced the Eastside Club to Shepherd’s pie for dinner.  I watched her make it once, and I memorized it. Although she will never admit it, I made the recipe better! I came back a few days later and made the dish again at the Club. Her recipe was pretty good, but a layer of cheese, and some secret spices changed the game and made my version the favorite! I’m still riding on the high from that day. It’s been 15 years – LOL! The way the Club staff recognized and encouraged my skills and talents and gave me the space to harness them taught me to do the same for others in my life.

The programs that I participated in taught me that all my actions will have a reaction.  The Club taught me to be mindful, and to do my best to think critically when I’m going to make a choice, and to make sure I have fun. It’s served me well.

My Life After The Club

After graduating from high school, I dabbled in advertising for a while. Then, I explored the Saint Cloud music scene, where I found a path in the music industry.  I moved to Minneapolis to study Music Business and Entertainment and eventually decided to go all in and pursue that path on my own terms. It was not a straight line, but I landed where I wanted to be. I started my music career 11 years ago at the independent hip hop label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, based out of Minneapolis.

Today, I am living in Brooklyn, New York, working remotely as a Live Events Manager (Tour Manager) for Rhymesayers. I strategize, coordinate and execute the numerous details for live events for our artist partners. I also advocate and negotiate for the best, and/or most equitable, outcomes for our artist partners’ vision.

I can say that the folks on this list, in no particular order; have all had a deeply profound and positive effect on my life.  Special shout outs to: Jeff Hauge, Jodi Millerbernd, Erik Ostrom, Dakota Brown, Adam Deitrich, Katie & Laura Ruprecht, Sara Thompson (Rostad) and Lee, Buddy King, Carissa Prasch, Chameny, Brenda Huntsinger, Jenny Hammer, Stan Peabody, Tony Rose, Dana Nelson, a few more folks from Southside, and the Ameri Corps. folks.

Reconnecting with Aimee Minnerath and Deb Nebosis was the highlight of my week.  I want to give them a personal shout out.  I’ve always felt their presence in my life while growing up. Whether they were stopping through the Club to say hello, and would make a point to check in with me and other kids at various Clubs. It was always appreciated.  They were connected.  They are the warmest, kindest people in this world. Now that I’m older I have a better understanding of what they do, and what they’ve done for me and the other kids. They are focused on the forest so that we could play and grow among the trees. They are among many people working behind the scenes to keep things running.  Their work, along with the incredible Geri Bechtold is one to behold, and I am grateful to have been among the many youth they’ve served.