Before he became an internationally touring pop star, a regular on the Billboard charts and a judge on the hit reality-entertainment show “So You Think You Can Dance,” and before he was showing precocious musical-theater talent in the halls of Fort Lauderdale’s prestigious Dillard Center for the Arts, Miramar native Jason Derulo was a kid with time on his hands.
And that’s when the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County stepped in.
“I was looking for something to do after school and my mom definitely needed some help, you know, not having me be home by myself,” says Derulo, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. “She was in school and she was working, so she was not home a lot. So it offered an outlet for her as well.”
Derulo got involved with the organization’s Marti Huizenga Club in Hollywood after hearing about it from an older cousin. It addressed a void that wasn’t being filled in his middle-school classes, and helped him find his voice, Derulo says.
“It teaches you social skills. Getting a chance to speak to people, you know what I’m saying? In class you don’t really get to talk to people. You get in trouble for talking,” he says.
Something as simple as a game of pool came with valuable lessons.
“You learn discipline, learning rules for all of the games, waiting your turn, being respectful to the equipment,” he says.
Earlier this month, Derulo gave back to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County by performing some of his Top 10 hits, which include “Whatcha Say,” “In My Head,” “Ridin’ Solo” and “Talk Dirty,” at a gala fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami.
The gala was part of the 30th annual Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County Rendezvous, founded by Rita and Rick Case at the Fisher Island Club in Miami Beach. Rendezvous is billed as the world’s largest charity gathering of mega-yachts and has raised $30 million for the organization, which serves more than 12,500 at-risk youth.
This was not the first time Derulo entertained at the Rendezvous: As a member of the Marti Huizenga Club, an 11-year-old Derulo won a talent contest to perform at the 2000 gala on Fisher Island, when he appeared onstage with Michael Bolton and sang “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly.
The song was a perfect fit for the empowering theme of the event.
“That song is just so uplifting,” Derulo says. “That seems like 100 years ago.”