$10,000 surprise, Shaq and Magic’s moms make Jackets for Jobs gala spectacular!


GALA STARS–Christine Johnson (Magic Johnson’s mom), Alison Vaughn, Founder, Jackets for Jobs & Lucille O’Neal (Shaq’s mom)


Detroit, MI (BlackNews.com) — Jackets for Jobs has done it again. The non-profit organization led by superstar businesswoman Alison Vaughn has set the city of Detroit on fire with water cooler talk. The topic: The 13th anniversary gala that took place April 11, at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton-Downtown Detroit.

It was standing room only in the elegant Crystal Ballroom as sponsors, supporters and Jackets For Jobs clients all enjoyed an action packed program. Master of Ceremony Chuck Bennett of the Detroit News added just the right amount of humor between speakers. The first bombshell came from Jerome Smalls, VP and Director of Community Relations for the TJX Corporation, when he announced a surprise $10,000 cash gift to Jackets For Jobs. The room immediately filled with hoots and hollers.

“We value tremendously our relationship with Jackets For Jobs and we love the work they do,” said Smalls. “We just wanted to give Alison and her organization a small token of appreciation for impacting so many lives in a positive way.” Alison Vaughn was shaking with excitement after receiving the check. “I’m literally shaking right now,” exclaimed Vaughn. “This is just so wonderful and I want everyone to go shop at TJ Maxx today!” urged Vaughn to the audience.

Keynote speaker Lucille O’Neal (Shaq’s mom) was electrifying as expected. She shared candid details about her journey out of poverty, overcoming alcoholism and low self esteem. As she spoke about standing over six feet tall as a 12 year old girl the room was absolutely silent with all eyes on her. O’Neal also confessed that she truly knows how important Jackets For Jobs is to the community. “I remember a time when I only had one suit. It was black,” said O’Neal. “But I tell you what, I kept that one suit clean and I kept it pressed. And every time I put it on I felt good about myself.”

Vaughn proved savvy as ever as she named a surprise special guest. Christine Johnson (Magic Johnson’s mother) is good friends with Lucille O’Neal and made a surprise cameo. The day’s events also featured a video highlighting the history of Jackets for Jobs, musical selections from Detroit Community High School and Mz. RoyalT. Everyone in the audience received gifts from TJ Maxx and a number of lucky attendees won raffle prizes that included Detroit Pistons game tickets and merchandise, copies of Mrs. O’Neal’s book “Walk Like You Have Somewhere To Go” and other prizes.

The Jackets For Jobs event certainly caught the attention of local media as the celebration was covered by the ABC and Fox affiliates that evening. “We’re just so pleased with everything. Today was a phenomenal event and we are so appreciative for all the support,” gushed Vaughn. “Without great sponsors like TJ Maxx and DESC we wouldn’t be here. Our goal is to keep helping our clients and making a difference for another 13 years.”

Since opening the doors in 2000, Jackets for Jobs has helped over 14,000 individuals with employment, including over 1,000 people in 2012. Vaughn’s organization has been supported and applauded by ABC’s “The View, NBC’s “Today Show”, and Oprah’s O Magazine. A highlight of her career was the distinct honor of ringing the closing bell on the NASDAQ. The organization is also proud to be in charitable partnership with TJ Maxx.

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