On May 28th, the Boys & Girls Club of East Los Angeles put on a charity recital, complete with musical performances, authentic Mexican food, and beer. Hosted in an indoor basketball court, the event welcomed dozens of guests, and while the opening acts were professional musicians the focus of the night was the BECHLEM Charity and the creative children sponsored by it.
BECHLEM is one of the few art-centric charities in East Los Angeles and is probably the only one centered around keeping kids off the streets and engaging with them on a more personal level. Bechlem’s founder Anjeza Gega is a singer and performer from Albania who got her start from a charity sponsorship. Today, Anjeza heads BECHLEM, which focuses on supporting local youth and giving them the space to express themselves artistically.
The event hosted on May 28th, Memorial Day, was BECHLEM’s 3rd annual fundraising recital, which showcased Anjeza’s budding young artists. The audience was packed with proud parents, excited to see their child perform on stage. All profits made from the show went to the charity, in the hopes of expanding next year’s art program.
From the start of the event, Anjeza stated that her goal was to serve as an example for the community and to show the kids in the program that, yes, you can be up on stage and be great. As the night progressed, it was easy to see how much she had connected with her group of young girls who were between ages 5-9.
BECHLEM is a charity focused on the arts, but unlike other art concentrated schools and charities, doesn’t focus on regimental teaching. Instead, as Anjeza stated on recital night, the charity’s goal is to offer these children the space to express their feelings and thoughts freely away from judgment and in the productive space of the Boys & Girls Club.
The charity puts on three separate art programs each year. During the program, children learn to sing, dance, and even pick up the self-confidence to speak in front of a crowd. Once the program is over, the children leave with a sense of improved confidence, as well as a bag filled with clothing donations from department stores. Proof of Anjeza’s revolutionary work with her kids was evident that night at the recital.
At one point, each girl went up and performed a little speech, or commercial, in front of the basketball court filled with parents. Each performance was done with a sense of joy and self-confidence that is usually uncommon for girls that age. The girls also performed a song and dance routine to Imagine Dragons’ Believer, which received a round of applause from the audience.
The recital also gave the children a chance to see professional musicians, like Boys and Girls Club alum Lowes Moore III, and even their own teacher Anjeza Gega. During the girl’s various costume changes, BECHLEM’s founder would take the stage, and put on a show that left her students with a sense of wonder.
Few East LA Charities are as filled with as much heart as BECHLEM. Even if the children of Anjeza’s program never lean towards art again, allowing them the freedom of expression is well-worth the effort. As a result of BECHLEM, these kids seem to have a greater sense of self-confidence, which will not only help them in the future but can help better the East LA community as well.