Category Archives: Awards

Youth of the Year chapter winners advance to state competition

Three teens from Valley Boys and Girls Clubs chapters were chosen as Youth of the Year winners to represent their branches at the state-level competition tonight at the U.S. Airways Center. The state winner will advance to the Pacific Region Youth of the Year competition later this year.

Here are the local chapter winners:

Greater Scottsdale

Alyssa Coughenour. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale awarded Alyssa Coughenour of the Thunderbird Branch as its 2012 Youth of the Year.

The Pinnacle High School senior took home a $5,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 Systems and a $1,000 gift card from American Express at the Celebrate Youth Gala and Auction held at Talking Stick Resort. The other runner-ups also received scholarship money and gift cards valued at $500.

Read more about Alyssa here.

Metropolitan Phoenix

Chloe Johnson. Photo courtesy of Nancy Crase.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix named Chloe Johnson its Youth of the Year competition.

The St. Mary High School junior credits her 12 years at the MLB All-Star Arizona Diamondbacks Branch for her character and determination to help in her community.

Read more about Chloe here.

East Valley

Adrianna Henderson was named Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

Adrianna Henderson. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

The Horizon Honors High School senior received a $20,000 scholarship, which she hopes to use to pursue her goal of becoming a physical therapist.

Read more about Adrianna here.

Erin Saltzman

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Celebrate Youth: Vivian Nguyen

Vivian Nguyen. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Pinnacle High School sophomore Vivian Nguyen will be honored at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, at Talking Stick Resort. She is one of eight outstanding youth competing to advance to the state Youth of the Year competition.

Vivian says the Club’s Vestar Branch gave her a clearer perspective on life. Over the years she has learned how to find opportunities and take advantage of resources available to her in order to get ahead.

Celebrate Youth is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Vivian’s speech

I remember getting my first pair of glasses. I remember when the teacher wrote on the board and I had to squint just to make out one word. I remember the moment when I put on my brand new pair of glasses. Everything was so clear, I fully realized what I hadn’t been seeing right. Now, glasses are a part of my everyday life and this experience is like my Boys & Girls Club story.

As a kid, I was looking at life with an unclear perspective. Before going to the Boys & Girls Club, I attended a small private school that had an after-school program called Extended Care. It was nothing compared to what the Club is. Everyday, they would hand us a snack and we were free to do what we wanted. There were no programs or clear-cut activities; everything was very unstructured. The thing I see when I reflect back is that there were no chances for me to learn about myself and my life.

My first year at the Boys & Girls Club Vestar Branch swept the fuzziness from my eyes and let me see things in a new and clear way just like my glasses did. The first person I met was the Education Coordinator at the time. I never imagined she would be the one who would encourage and support me and help get me through my first year at Vestar. She gave me my first opportunities by introducing me to programs that taught me not only leadership and respect, but gave me experiences of a lifetime. She started my Club career and provided everything I needed to get that clear perspective. She was basically my first pair of glasses.

Now that glasses are a part of my everyday life, I see everything more clearly. From the values that I have learned in the various programs I am in, to the everlasting friendships I have made, I realize these are just a few things that give me that everyday clarity.

A small girl with an unclear perspective in the world? Not anymore. Now, I am a girl who has found her perfect pair of glasses and that’s the Boys & Girls Club. I thank the Vestar Branch for all the great things I have done and making my life, a lot clearer.

Celebrate Youth: Alyssa Coughenour

Alyssa Coughenour. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Pinnacle High School senior Alyssa Coughenour will be honored as Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale’s Youth of the Year.

Alyssa credits the Club’s Thunderbirds Branch for teaching her the importance of respect — both giving and earning it. She aspires to attend Duke University to study public relations.

Alyssa will be honored at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, 2012, at Talking Stick Resort.

The gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Alyssa’s speech

My facial muscles tense, my forehead wrinkled, I fixated my eyes on the inside of my eyelids. Moments earlier, they had been forced shut by an intruding red blindfold and the hands of someone whom I trusted. She twisted the cloth behind my head to ensure my blindness.

It was two years ago at the PROUD Lock In, a Boys and Girls Club event, and it was the single experience that embodies what I’ve learned about respect.

The first experience I can remember about respect was when I was Kindergarden. My name being Alyssa sounds similar to Listen, and so when the word was said through the microphone, I always perked up. Feeling like a clever Kindergardener, I realized Laura was not talking to me and I could keep talking during announcements. But the day Laura actually said my name in front of all my peers, I learned maybe I shouldn’t talk while others are talking- a basic rule of respect, but the foundation for what I’d learn in years to come.

At the club, I’d show up in my metallic purple pants and my bright polka dot backpack. I had an odd fashion sense back then, but not once did I receive a rude remark, not once did I feel weird in my purple pants. It wasn’t like that at school. At school, comments about my purple pants and poofy hair made me want to hide. It was when I got to the club that I could be myself and that I got respect.

At a young age, I learned how to respect others. However, it was the PROUD lock-in that taught me why respect was so important.

When I was blinded at the event, it only took me a few minutes to realize how dependent I was on other people. Being blind opened my eyes to circumstances other people have to live with, and I experienced first-hand what it would be like if I was not as fortunate as I am.

To this day, you’ll find the framed PRIDE Award, an award I received at the PROUD Lock-in, on top of the antique rollover desk in my room. It reminds me of the most important lesson I’ve learned in the past eighteen years- respect. People who respect others unique differences are proud of themselves for appreciating everyone regardless of their color, disabilities, or quirks. Thus, pride lies in respect, and respect, thanks to the Thunderbirds Branch, is something I have begun to fully comprehend.

Celebrate Youth: Andy Dao

Andy Dao. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Born in Vietnam, Andy Dao was a reserved child and uncomfortable in social situations when he moved to Arizona. That all changed seven years ago when Dao joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Rose Lane Branch.

The club nurtured Dao’s passions for art, music and  sports. He gained confidence, friends and teammates, and is a part of several community service clubs, including Keystone.

Dao is one of eight outstanding youth who will be honored at The Celebrate Youth Saturday, March 31 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. One of those youth will be selected to advance to the state Youth of the Year competition.

The gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Andy’s speech

Seven years ago, I was nine years old, a child by most standards. I was unable to understand the complexity of being social unlike my peers who had appeared to have intuitively grasped it. Seven years ago, I was lazy and lethargic. I was content with sitting around by myself, observing others enjoy themselves. I knew full well that it could be me but I didn’t have any drive or desire to make an effort to change. Seven years ago, I enjoyed being alone. I kept others away and it was fine with me. Growing up with just my mother, I didn’t need additional people in my life. Seven years ago, that had all started to change for me.

This was when I first attended the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, Rose Lane Branch. I didn’t become social overnight, but I began to develop my own interests. These included art and music. Art and music were perfect for me at the time. It didn’t require close proximity with others. Not only that, it was calming and relaxing. In the Art Room, I became heavily involved with art. Painting, sketching, and sculpting became an everyday thing. I would come in everyday to use their supplies. At the Club, I learned to play four different instruments; guitar, violin, piano, and bass guitar. There was always an instrument laying around that I wanted to play. I had even joined my school orchestra for years until I managed to join the Symphonic Orchestra at Saguaro High School. The person who sparked my interest in guitar was actually a staff at the Boys & Girls Club. I had a brand new side to me. I had something that distinguished me from others my own age.

Despite this however, I was still devoid of connections. I knew many people but I didn’t have anyone I was close to. This was quickly solved by sports, particularly basketball and soccer. They have a necessity of coordinating with each other on our teams to properly perform even the most elementary things. These were team sports, meaning that they required communication between players for success. For the duration of each game, I had a group that I was included in. I talked to them, I encouraged them, and I either succeeded or failed with them.

Today, I am sixteen years old. A teenager, to some, a young adult to others. Today, I have friends who I have known for seven years. Friends who have been through thick and thin with me. These are the same friends who I have played soccer and basketball together with everyday for years. Today, I have a room full of art supplies and personal works. Today, I will no longer simply observe others and no more will I be subject to the loneliness I have grown out of. Because today, I am no longer the boy I was seven years. Today, I am the result of the Club, the collection of lessons I have learned, and the challenges I have faced. Thank you.

Next: Youth of the Year finalist Alyssa Coughenou.

Celebrate Youth: Lane Yazzie

Lane Yazzie. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Lane Yazzie, a freshman at Salt River High School, is one of two members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community who will be honored at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, at Talking Stick Resort.

Lane is a member of the Red Mountain Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, where he has learned valuable life skills while participating in many of the club’s leadership programs, including Keystone, SMART move and Money Matters.

Lane is thankful for the opportunities provided by the Club and its part in giving him the confidence and self-esteem he needs to succeed.

The Celebrate Youth gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Lane’s speech

What thought comes to mind when you hear adventurous? For myself, I visualize Indiana Jones as courageous, daring, bold, and brave character. Like, Indiana Jones, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale Red Mountain Branch provides me with the adventures in my life. On these adventures I have daily at the club, I am able to travel different places, experience new things, and most of all become confident with myself.

Discovering who I am was challenging before I became a member of the Club. It was like a huge boulder chasing me away from the treasures of life, leading me into a negative direction I did not want to go towards. During this time I made poor choices with friends, and I was dealing with personal issues with my self-esteem, and lost trust from my family which prevented me in finding the treasures I knew life had to offer. Any treasure is hard to find, and sometimes it is in places you rarely expect. It is also not easy going on your own quest by yourself; luckily my friend Angelica came to the rescue with her invite to the club one day after school when I had nowhere to go. Like the dark traitorous cave that has hidden treasures on the inside, I approached the 35 x 40 foot one room building, it made me skeptical of what was so amazing about this place. I used all the courage I had, when I entered, I was greeted with smiles, laughter, and joy from the young club members. Angelica introduced me to all the Club staff, they were friendly, and it was a warm welcoming feeling that I immediately felt safe.

The two years I have been a member, I have grown tremendously; the staff has opened their hearts and time for me. The Club gave me a secret weapon like Indiana Jones’s lasso he carries around to help defend him in time of need. My lasso is the Self Confidence I build here at the Club with peers and staff from attending daily programs like keystone, SMART moves, and Money Matters. No more running from boulders, dogging arrows, and setting off traps. The negative things in my life began to minimize, and I gain that trust back with my family because of all the positive influence and actions I do at the Club. My adventure never ended, it began here. Thank you.

Next: Youth of the Year nominee Andy Dao.

Celebrate Youth: Jackson Fogerty

Jackson Forgerty, a longtime member of the Virginia G. Piper Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale, credits the Club and its programs for shaping him into the individual he is today.

His involvement over the last 10 years in programs like Leader in Training and Keystone, a leadership and service club for youth, has taught him how to be a role model to those around him. Team sports like basketball taught him the importance of teamwork and communication. Now a senior at Desert Mountain High School, Jackson plans to remaining involved in the club programs, especially basketball, while he attends college.

Kristofferson will be honored along with eight other outstanding young people at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, at Talking Stick Resort.

The gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Jackson’s speech

In each stage of the past decade of my life, the Boys & Girls Club has given me what I am truly seeking and this clarity is a rare constant in my fast-paced life. I am able to summarize the impact the people, programs, experiences and opportunities the Club has provided in one brief but meaningful word. This word continues to resonate with me as I reflect on my journey with the Piper Branch. It has become the power of fulfillment.

When I first arrived at Piper almost 10 years ago, I was an impressionable new member searching for a sense of belonging. As I became more involved, Club mentors and programs influenced me to be completely committed to school, the club and my community. The Piper Branch provided a sense of satisfaction and happiness in my life as I went from a new member seeking belongingness to a well-balanced leader taking in every opportunity available.

As I developed into my teen years, what I was searching for began to change. I found the Leader in Training Program, which allowed me to have a leadership position at the Club while learning to work in a team and be responsible. A sense of fulfillment was provided by the Boys & Girls Club in this pivotal stage of my growth as I created an identity for myself at an age when so many teens struggle to find just that.

The next phase of my life was the transition from a developing teen to a secure young adult equipped to take on life’s challenges. The Club prepared me to lead my peers as Keystone President, be a positive role model for my younger brother Grant, and exhibit Club values for the hundreds of members I am able to shape each day. As I continue my journey to becoming a more capable individual, I am confident that the ideals I have acquired from the Club will enable me to live a more fulfilled life.

The Boys & Girls Club provides this strong sense of fulfillment to every individual it touches, regardless of age, position, or level of involvement. I am truly grateful for what I have received from the Club in each phase of my growth and I have confidence that what I have learned through my involvement will guide me in every decision I make and continue to give me a sense of fulfillment no matter how far life may take me from the Piper Branch. Thank You.

Next: Youth of the Year finalist Lane Yazzie.

Celebrate Youth: Kristofferson Walker

Kristofferson Walker. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Kristofferson Walker, a sophomore at Seligman High School, has been selected by the Hualapai Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale in Peach Springs as the chapter’s Youth of the Year. This distinction is given to one Club member in each of the Club’s branches.

A basketball lover, Kristofferson could often be seen on the Club’s courts and he admits his favorite memories are of breaking all the basketball hoops while learning to dunk.

Kristofferson aspires to one day travel the world as a doctor, a goal he knows the Boys & Girls Club can help him achieve.

Kristofferson will be honored along with eight other outstanding young people at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, at Talking Stick Resort.

The gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Next: Youth of the Year finalist Jackson Fogerty.