Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (B&GCSM) selects an outstanding young person to receive its annual Youth of the Year Award (the highest honor bestowed upon a member of Boys & Girls Clubs). This award recognizes commendable character, academic achievement and outstanding volunteer service to a member’s Club and community.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s Youth of the Year
Our 2014 Youth of the Year is a bright and hardworking young lady whose academic accomplishments and character strengths make her ideally suited to serve as B&GCSM’s ambassador. She attends the Wertz Club in Shelby Township, calling it her “second home” and crediting it with significantly impacting her life. Brianna likens the Club to “…a family who improves together,” adding that she’s glad she had the chance to be a part of it. Her concern for others, coupled with an ambitious work ethic, have led her to help countless people through her volunteer efforts at Lakeside Church, which supports Children’s Hospital and various social service agencies that minister to the hurting, hungry, homeless and other people in need. Brianna participates in B&GCSM’s academic support program, BE GREAT: Graduate and is vice president of the Keystone Club (B&GCSM’s small-group Character and Leadership Development program). After graduating high school this June, she will attend Western Michigan University where she will pursue dual degrees in social work and criminal justice.
Brianna is an active member of the Fauver-Martin Club and her community. She is a member of the SMART Girls Club and president of the Keystone Club. “The staff has taught me how to give back to my community… and encouraged me to reach for the stars.” She collected donations for Ronald McDonald House and military troops, organized blood and bone marrow registry drives and more. Brianna plans to attend Alabama State University to study criminal justice.
Aaron is a very ambitious, dedicated, and driven young man who works hard to support his family, Club, and community. He has overcome many obstacles in his life, including homelessness and more, all of which he now realizes have helped make him a stronger person. Aaron credits Club programs with teaching him to speak up for himself, make informed decisions, and plan for the future. This engaging young leader volunteers his time as a music minister at his church, and participates in other community service initiatives and extra-curricular activities. He will attend Northern Michigan University to study nursing in hopes of becoming an emergency room nurse.
NFL/YET Club, Dauch Campus
Autumn credits B&GCSM with providing her with a stress-free environment where she can focus on her studies, gain “peace-of-mind,” and utilize her natural leadership skills. She participates in the Diplomas to Degrees program and took part in the TEENS summer workforce development program funded by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Autumn will attend Spelman College to study forensic psychology.
Kennede saw the difference the Boys & Girls Clubs made for her sister and felt this was a place where she could thrive, too. The Club has not only brought her out of her shell, but it also inspired her to find her passion. She ran the Club’s canteen and is now president of the Keystone Club. “My journey at my Club prepared for my next adventure in life.” Kennede wants a career helping children and will attend Michigan State University where she will major in social work.
America was shy when she first started attending the Club, but she has since become an outgoing young woman. She credits the Club’s staff, events and all she has experienced there with helping her become a confident young lady who is not afraid to speak her mind or explore new things. America helped establish the Chadsey/Condon Youth Committee in southwest Detroit and currently works at the Club as a student aide. She plans to attend the University of Michigan to study medicine after her 2016 high school graduation.
Kenneth sees the Club as a “growing experience,” a place to learn new things, gain responsibility, and participate in fun programs. Kenneth said, “The Club has taught me things like prioritizing my time and getting organized.” He has demonstrated maturity and moral character as a junior staff member by helping supervise younger members and lead activities at the Club or on field trips. He volunteers at various community organizations and wants to study mechanical engineering. He is currently debating whether to attend Michigan Technological University or Kettering University.
DwJuan had to take on a lot of responsibilities at a young age which prevented him from making post-high school plans. That changed thanks to the leadership skills, increased awareness and other talents he developed by actively participating in his Club’s programs. In addition to his efforts on bethird of the Holden Helpers program, DwJuan also mentors other members, serves as sergeant-at-arms in the Triple Play Sports Leadership Club and president of the Keystone Club. He is still exploring his postsecondary school options and considering several colleges and universities.
Huron Valley Club
Bryan and his mother came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was two years old. He has since become a trailblazer who works at the Club as a translator and created a Spanish Club at his Club for other youth for whom English is their second language. He was Torch Club president, Keystone Club president and continues to serve as a role model to younger Club members through the SMART Leaders program. “I can see by watching the staff how to be a good model for the younger kids.” Bryan will either attend Eastern Michigan University to study business or the University of Michigan to study electrical engineering.
Jasmine began attending the Club four years ago because her father wanted her to flourish in a safe environment. At first, she was quiet but eventually found her voice. As Jasmine gained confidence and self-esteem, she discovered her tremendous skill at leading others with compassion and empathy. After graduating from high school, she will attend Central Michigan University where she plans to major in performing and fine arts.