: It 'Helped Make Me the Man I Am Today'
Denzel Washington is helping raise money for the organization that made a big impact on his life when he was as a child.
The Oscar winner, 63, is partnering up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to auction off a trip to the Los Angeles premiere of The Equalizer 2 in exchange for donations made to the organization. Washington himself was part of the club during his childhood and tells PEOPLE it still plays a vital role in his life.
“The Boys & Girls Club helped make me the man that I am today,” he tells PEOPLE. “The staff at the Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club invested their time in developing me and that is why I have been the National spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 20 years.”
The winner will receive a trip to L.A. with a two-night stay in a “swanky hotel,” two tickets to the premiere and after party and a meet and greet opportunity with Washington.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization that provides after-school programs and services for children across 4,300 chapters, serving 4.3 million kids.
Washington recently penned a personal essay for Essence about his time in the Boys & Girls Club during his childhood just north of Manhattan. In the essay, Washington highlighted the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year recipient Carlos Polanco, who also shares a passion for the club.
“I grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., about 30 miles from where Carlos grew up, across the Hudson, just north of the Bronx,” he recalled in the essay. “Too many of my childhood friends had little structure or guidance. Some had run-ins with the law and ended up in prison. That could have been me.”
He continued, “But, like Carlos, I was lucky. My father was a Pentecostal preacher who taught me the importance of faith. My mother was a beautician who sacrificed to get me the best education possible. But I also had a local Boys & Girls Club with mentors who cared and gave me the confidence I needed to set higher goals than I might have.”
Head to crowdrise.com to make a donation and enter in the sweepstakes.
The Equalizer 2 hits theaters July 20.