Tag Archives: Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix

Youth of the Year nominee Cynthia Vasquez

Cynthia Vasquez entered the Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix  as a shy middle schooler.

Now, with the help of the club, Vasquez has become a confident young woman.

Cynthia Vasquez. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

She  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.

“I was such a shy person when I first came through the doors. If I had never gone to the Boys & Girls Clubs I would still be shy and feel invisible,” says Vasquez.

Vasquez was a victim of bullying at school when she was a child. Because she moved around a lot, she also had a hard time making friends. Her mom took her and her brother to the Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch for their well-being after school.

“Being bullied as a kid was so hard. It made me not want to be close to anyone. But the club taught me how to trust people again and open up. Without it I would have never broken out of my shell,” Vasquez says.

Over time, she found the courage she needed to be herself, with the help of club staff members.

Vasquez helps new members at the club by getting them involved in activities so they feel welcomed.

“It feels great to help the younger members, and I get to feel like a kid myself and use my creativity, that’s when I feel the most like myself,” she says.

Vasquez would like to attend a four-year university and become an inspirational filmmaker.

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 Crystal Ortiz.

Youth of the Year nominee Sarabeth Estrada

After her parents’ divorce, Sarabeth Estrada quickly became a mother figure for her younger siblings.

Sarabeth Estrada. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

At the Jerry & Helen Wisotsky/Peoria Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, she found a place where she could still be a kid.

Estrada was just 7 when she walked into the neighborhood club. “I escaped all the responsibilities at home and got to just be a kid,” says Estrada, now 15.

Estrada 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.

Ever since she can remember, Estrada has always had a passion for music, and the club helped give her the self-confidence to get involved with singing, acting and public speaking throughout her schooling.

She also learned the importance of giving back and leadership while participating in club programs like Torch Club and Keystone, community service clubs for kids and teens.

“My community has given me and my family so much. I need to do my best to give back to others who are in need,” says Estrada.

Estrada, a sophomore at Peoria High School, is involved with many extracurricular activities.

She plans to become a certified cosmetologist through a program offered at her school. She then would like to go to Eastern Arizona College to earn a business degree so she can one day own her own salon.

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 Cynthia Vasquez.

Youth of the Year nominee Sorendy Ramirez

Before Sorendy Ramirez walked into the I.G. Homes Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, she was nervous around other people.

Sorendy Ramirez. Photo courtesy of Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

With the help of staff members, Ramirez, then 12, gained the confidence she needed to realize her full potential.

Ramirez  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.

“The staff did whatever it took for me to get comfortable. They helped me to take baby steps — at first I would spend only one minute in the teen center, then the next day two minutes, and so on, until finally I built the courage to spend all my free time there,” she says.

Within just five months, Ramirez became completely immersed in her club. It provided her with a home away from home.

She went on to represent her club in a leadership role and eventually discovered a passion for public speaking.

Now 17, Ramirez is president of Keystone, a leadership and community service club. She also represents her junior class in student government at Cesar Chavez High School.

At school, Ramirez is in the National Honor Society and part of the Academic Decathlon Team, which is currently ranked within the top 10 in the state. When she’s not spending her time at the club or school, she speaks to teens
about alcohol prevention.

“I want to use my gifts and abilities to inspire kids,” says Ramirez. “The staff at the Boys & Girls Club took me under their wings; now I want to do the same for the kids in my community. I want to help them become the best they can be.”

After high school, she wants to attend an out of state school, such as Hofstra University in New York, to study communications and become a motivational speaker.

“People think the Boys & Girls Club is just an average after-school program, but they don’t realize that for many kids, the club is their second home, the staff is their parents and the members are their brothers and sisters,” she says.

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 Sarabeth Estrada.

Youth of the Year nominee Destini Ward

Destini Ward. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

Sixteen-year-old Destini Ward was diagnosed with spina bifida as an infant, but that hasn’t slowed her down. She has overcome debilitating pain and physical limitations to become the strong and confident young woman she is today.

Ward can be found at the Phoenix Swift Kids Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix nearly every day. She’s been going since she was 12.

The Ironwood High School junior, also known as “Hot Wheelz” by friends and club members, navigates life in a wheelchair. Ward balances Club involvement with academic achievement and volunteer projects like helping feed homeless families in need.

Ward is one of a dozen 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.

For Ward, the club provides a safe haven and a relaxed social environment. Staff mentors have also helped her outline a roadmap for success in college and encouraged her to explore a wide variety of programs, helping her discover a love of creative arts and volleyball.

Her time at the club helped her realize her love of working with younger children. That passion inspired her to want to go to Grand Canyon University to become a pediatric nurse, so she could help children with physical challenges.

“I’ve gotten to explore everything, including being a mentor to the younger kids. Being part of the club helped me think more in depth about life after high school and find the courage to be myself,” she says.

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 Sorendy Ramirez.

Youth of the Year nominee Martha Ramirez

From the day a then 12-year-old Martha Ramirez cut the ribbon to open the Ed Robson Family Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix, she has been attending nearly every day, laying the foundation for a successful future.

Martha Ramirez. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

Her childhood was cut short because of complications at home including financial  difficulties and an often absent father. The club offered her a place to be a kid again.

Ramirez 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.

Ramirez learned a lot about personal responsibility, the value of hard work and tenacity from her mother, but the 17-year-old says she is determined to set a different course for her own life — a course that includes being the first in her family to graduate from college.

“The club has more support than even a friend,” she says. “If you don’t have a place where you go after school, the club is a great environment to call home.”

Ramirez takes honor classes at North Canyon High School because of encouragement she received at her club. She also uses the club’s college preparation programs to prepare for her future.

“If I didn’t have the Boys & Girls Club in my life, I wouldn’t know how to deal with, and overcome, my obstacles. I would be running away from them,” Ramirez says.

Ramirez volunteers her Friday nights to “Chick Flick Fridays,” a program to build self-esteem for middle school aged girls.

She also goes back to her elementary school and mentors younger kids in the Camp Swift program. “I help the community by making positive actions, by changing myself to become a better leader in my community,” she says.

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 Juan Salas.

Youth of the Year nominee Beylul Woldebruk

Beylul Woldebruk. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

Beylul Woldebruk began attending the Harry & Sandy Rosenzweig Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix when she was 12 years old. Initially, she came almost daily, looking for a safe place in her neighborhood where she could meet new people.

Little did she know that the club, members and staff would have such a positive impact on her life. Woldebruk 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.

“The biggest impact the club has made on my life is teaching me how to make positive choices and be myself,” says Woldebruk.

Woldebruk is president of the Keystone Club, a leadership and community service club for teens at  her branch. She plans community service events for her club and shows teens the importance of giving back to the community. Her favorite event was hosting a food drive for a local food bank.

Woldebruk loves being a role model for younger kids because before coming to the club she didn’t always have that confidence. She was bullied at school. Now, when she has a problem, she can go to a staff member at the club for advice. She also learned how to make positive choices, in and outside of the club.

“Instead of skipping school, smoking, drinking and partying like a lot of my friends at school, I do fun, healthy things like playing volleyball and singing,” she says.

The club has helped her to prepare for college by visiting college campuses including Arizona State University. After she graduates from Central High School, she hopes to become a nurse so she can help people.

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: Meet nominee Chloe Johnson.