Crystal Ortiz has been a member of the Spencer D. & Mary Jane Stewart Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix. since she was 5 years old.
“I can still remember the first time I went to the Boys & Girls Club, I was painfully shy and hid behind my mother until another little girl asked me to play four-square. By the end of my first day I was already more at ease and outgoing,” says Ortiz, now 17.
Club activities helped Ortiz get more involved with her community and shaped her sense of responsibility.
Ortiz is one of 12 outstanding Valley youth vying to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix Youth of the Year during the “Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars” event Feb. 18. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.
“At my club, I am able to combine my love of service with my passion for sports through my involvement in Miracle League — a program that helps special needs children participate in sporting activities,” Ortiz says.
She also participates in healthy lifestyle programs, like SMART Girls and Keystone Club. Ortiz is also plays softball at school, is a member in DECA (a business development and preparation club) and Greens Club, which helps with restoring her community.
Ortiz volunteers at her club’s front desk, where she assists with administrative tasks and helps various visitors.
Her position has helped her develop interpersonal and professional skills. She also has gained an internship with an athletic director at her high school, Trevor G. Browne.
“I knew I always wanted to pursue a career in medicine and help people. The Boys & Girls Clubs gave me the tools and confidence to interact with others and pursue my current internship,” she says.
The club also helped Ortiz with her academic career.
“The staff and resources helped motivate me to complete my homework and know I wouldn’t be doing as well in school without it,” she says.
Ortiz plans to attend Gateway Community College to become a physical therapist.
Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix’ 12 clubhouses, dental clinic and outreach programs. For more information, visit bgcmp.org.
— Erin Saltzman
Tomorrow: Nominee Chelsea McElhenny.