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.
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.