Denzel Washington has been very vocal about his efforts to help and give back to the community.  The 63-year-old Oscar winner is also a national spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 20 years.

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.

Denzel Washington age 6 at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club
Credit: Courtesy the Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Washington recently penned an essay for Essence Magazine about his time in the Boys & Girls Club during his childhood in uptown Manhattan. In the essay, Washington spoke on 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. “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.”

Denzel Washington age 6 at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club
Credit: Courtesy the Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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.”

Always offering his own word of wisdom, The Equalizer 2 star still finds it rewarding to pass on information to guide the youth.

#Wisdom from Denzel Washington, “It takes talent to make money… but it takes brains to keep it” #TheEqualizer2 in theaters now!