R&B star Usher signed his first recording contract when he was only 13 and broke onto the music scene with his first album at 16. Considering how much the singing sensation accomplished before his 18th birthday, it's fitting that his non-profit foundation, New Look, emphasizes the importance of youth in the community.
"I truly do feel like youth are going to dictate what tomorrow really is," Usher says of his 10-year-old organization. "But they need the tools to do it. By motivating them, you can only hope for a promising tomorrow."
The latest recipients of one of the foundation's $25,000 Powered by Service grants, the Scott family, also got a little help around the house from the music superstar. In this Sunday's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Usher, alongside teen star Selena Gomez and the Extreme Makeover team, helped rebuild the family's home in Clarksville, Tenn.
Usher, 31, says this opportunity to appear on the show and break out his tool kit held a special meaning on multiple levels. "When I heard about the family, I was very excited to work with the family in Tennessee," he says. "We, through my foundation, have been trying to spread Powered by Service and Tennessee was the first on my list because I hadn't really gotten to do anything for my home state."
The Scott Family, consisting of Trina Scott and her three daughters, lost patriarch Dave Scott, a police officer, in 2002 when he was killed on duty. Ever since his death, the family has contributed immensely to the group that helped them heal, Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc. (C.O.P.S.). "Extreme Makeover, they do incredible work," Usher says. "There couldn't be anything more gratifying for the service they actually contribute to their community."
Usher, who is currently working on completing his next album for a February release, was tight-lipped about his work on the Scott house. However, aside from a dance room he contributed, he also helped build a bench and a flagpole in the front of the house to commemorate Dave. "A father is really the glue that sticks everything together," says the father of two. "This family continued to go out and help other families that had suffered the same loss in Clarksville."
Usher is confident that the $25,000 grant for C.O.P.S. will help the family continue to help others. "With this project, I really feel the stars were aligned. The Tennessee volunteers, obviously, a family that couldn't be more deserving, and Powered by Service being something that really guides the kids and gives them their opportunity to have a voice."