Outstanding Madison community members will be honored with Water Bearer awards as Today Not Tomorrow-Club TNT celebrates its 10th year since its establishment as a non-profit at a gala event at CUNA Mutual Nov. 6.
For the past 10 years, Club TNT's executive co-producers, Betty Banks and Gaddi Ben Dan, with the assistance of Director of Operations, Programming, and Outreach Jeanne Erickson, celebrate community members twice a year to recognize those in the community who give their time and effort to make Madison and its surrounding areas better places to live.
“This is the first major fund-raiser ever for Today Not Tomorrow. We are very excited about this event,” Erickson tells The Madison Times. “Over the years we have honored just under 100 people as Water Bearers.”
For 10 years, Club TNT has been on the cutting edge of helping youngsters with a lot of troubling issues that they face. Every Saturday on My Madison TV 14, the youth-produced "Club TNT" program promotes positive lifestyle choices that build self-esteem and confidence. Their Youth Safety First "Lock It Up" campaigns against childrens' access to prescription drugs, alcohol and handguns inside the home. Their Project Babies health and wellness program provides a support system for at-risk families.
The anniversary event will kick off with a social hour and a silent auction. “We have quite a few excellent items including a signed football by the Green Bay Packer players and pictures from local artists,” Erickson says.
There will be a large buffet-style dinner with three entree choices. The program will follow and be a celebration of the fall Water Bearer honorees. The recipients are: Gladis Benavides, owner of Benavides Enterprises; JoAnn Kelly, director of Residential and Community Services at Madison Gas & Electric; Steve Lipton, partner in Charge, Nonprofit & Government Practice, Wipfli, LLP; Lisa Peyton-Caire, founder and president of The Foundation for Black Women's Wellness; Dr. Gloria Sarto, Sarto Research Group; Wyman Winston, executive director of WHEDA; and the Madison Metropolitan School District Department of Family and Community Engagement of which Shahanna M. Baldon is the director .
“We have a really cool slate of honorees this year. Some really wonderful people,” Erickson says. “In a city like Madison, it's so hard to narrow it down to just six people. There are so many people who are doing such great things. We always try to have a very diverse group of honorees.”
The "Water Bearer," biblical in meaning, is the individual that each morning and night went to the well to bring water — the essence of life — back to the village, their family. The Village People Water Bearer Award is presented to an individual or group committed to community in all aspects of their life, that go beyond their work, and whose actions and deeds exemplify that commitment supporting the Village, the family, and giving, in essence, what is needed by the Village to be able to continue and grow.
This gala event will also be a celebration of the anniversary of the old Club TNT show that aired from 1989-1992. There will be video presentations throughout the evening highlighting clips from back in the day.
“We'll have pictures and video throughout the evening of all of the things that Today Not Tomorrow has done through Club TNT, the Safety Program, Project Babies, the Lock It Up campaign, our Senior Idol competition,” Erickson says. “All of those things will be included in a little history capsule.”
There will be youth performers including long-time Club TNTer Mychi Kober, and a presentation by Gavin Doby whose dad is Greg Doby from the CAPA program at the Boys & Girls Club. “Greg was on Club TNT when he was a youngster way back in the day, so it's kinda cool to have a father and a son both being a part of us,” Erickson says. “We're also working on having Music Makers from Centro Hispano to perform during the social hour.”
Emcee for the evening will be Ralph Cohen, account executive with WISC-TV/TVW. “He was the very original host of Club TNT back in the early days,” Erickson says. “Many people may know him as the voice of Z104; he was 'Ralphy Boy' back in the day.”
Erickson has been a part of Club TNT for its entire 10-year run as a non-profit. “My favorite part of Club TNT is being able to help the young people and provide them that opportunity to have a voice,” she says. “It's so hard for young people — especially young people of color — to find a place where people look at the positives. That's what we do.”
There are always very familiar faces at the Water Bearer awards event. Erickson hopes that for the special 10th anniversary celebration that there will be many new faces, too.
“I think people should come out to this event to really celebrate community and really get to know the work of an organization that has been a part of the community over all of these years,” Erickson says. “It will be a great opportunity to meet people that you've never met before and to learn about some great services that are being offered to the community. Good fun, good food, good music, good company — what better way to spend a night?”
Banks, Dan, and Erickson are already looking forward to the next 10 years.
“We're looking to keep doing what we are doing and to expand some of the things that we do,” Erickson says. “We really want to be able to provide that voice for the diverse population of our community. We've had a great 10 years and we want to continue to grow in the next 10 years and beyond. We're excited.”
For more information about the event, call Jeanne Erickson at (608)770-2049 or visit http://todaynottomorrow-clubtnt anniversary.eventbrite.com/