Tag Archives: youth

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.

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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.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona now making house calls for donations

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona has enhanced its donation pick-up policy to improve operations and provide better service to donors throughout the community. Instead of canvassing neighborhoods for donations left curbside, the organization now provides free home pick-up when donors call or go online to schedule a pick-up. The new program goes into effect today.

A "big" and "little" attend a Diamondbacks game. Photo courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

Last year, the nonprofit’s donation center collected nine million pounds of clothing and household items that will generate close to a quarter of the organization’s yearly revenue.

“Donating clothing and household items is a valuable way the community can support our mission and vital work such as mentor matching, which pairs kids with positive adult role models in our schools and communities,” says Pete Griffin, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. “Now residents can schedule pick-ups when it is most convenient for them. Another added benefit is this change will decrease our operational costs as our pick-up program becomes more efficient.” To schedule a donation pick-up, call 602-230-8900 or visit donateaz.org.

Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), 6 six through 18, in communities across the country. The positive relationships that develop have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people. More than 2,100 kids annually are served through the nonprofit’s donation pick-up program and financial donations. To learn more, visit helparizonayouth.org.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Great Scottsdale name Youth of the Year

Olga Fernandez and Steve Davidson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Scottsdale resident and Saguaro High School senior Olga Fernandez was selected as the 2011 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Olga has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale for the past 10 years and has been involved in a variety of educational and community service programs. She credits Club technology programs like Techathalon and Club Tech for her academic success at school. Olga maintains a 4.1 GPA and plans to attend Arizona State University’s Barrett, The Honors College, in the fall and will eventually pursue a career in medicine.

As the 2011 Youth of the Year from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, Fernandez will represent the organization at the state competition held on Tuesday, April 19, at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix. The state winner will advance to the Pacific Region competition. Then, five regional finalists will vie for the national title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America 2011 Youth of the Year.

The 2011 Youth of the Year announcement was made at the organization’s annual Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction held on Saturday, March 26, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. Fernandez will receive a $5,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 Systems, $750 American Express gift card, and new laptop computer from Network PC Engineering.

The Youth of the Year program has been an integral part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 60 years and is the highest honor given to members of the organization. Finalists are chosen based on their dedication to the Club, community and family, academic performance, moral character, life goals, leadership, poise and public speaking ability.

Below is the award-winning speech that Fernandez gave at the event:

Me siento triste. No tengo con quien hablar. Nadie me entiende. I am feeling sad. I have no one to talk to and am not being understood. Those were the exact thoughts that went through my mind on my first day at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. I was a lonely, Spanish-speaking 7-year-old who thought nothing good could come out of this move to America. I believed that the club was just going to be a temporary fixture in my life but was I wrong. Little did I know that it would become a place where I felt accepted and at liberty to just be me; a place where I would build lasting relationships and learn to express myself; a place where I would gain the confidence that I so desperately needed and a place where I learned that my differences were not so different.

The fairy tale club life that I live today is a far cry from how it was ten years ago. I was a second grader who wanted nothing to do with this so called “club”. I felt alienated and in result misbehaved, desperately seeking attention. I once remember, sprinting out of the Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch just to cause commotion. When the staff sat down and tried a different approach to handling me, I slowly began to feel secure and change my ways. I began to think positively and appreciate the Boys & Girls Club for what it had to offer. It soon became that place where I could be accepted.

Not long after, I moved to a new school and a new Boys & Girls Club, the Rose Lane Branch. My first day at Rose Lane, I was determined to have a fresh, positive start with a new attitude. I immersed myself into all the programs the club had to offer. One program in particular was Smart Girls. It taught me to have confidence in myself and embrace the woman I am becoming. The more programs that I participated in; the more I discovered my love for the club. I realized how being an individual did not mean being an outsider. I finally had people who understood and believed in me.

I am glad that I had role models to help me through my struggles and I can honestly say that without them, I would still be that misinterpreted, vulnerable 7-year-old. Instead, today I am a young person committed to do her best, an upcoming college student at Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College but most of all a courageous individual who is determined to succeed despite the odds of any given situation. This would not be possible without the help Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. Gracias…Thank you.

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Since 1954, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale has provided more than 100,000 Northeast Valley youth with a positive, supervised environment to explore the power of their potential. The organization’s nine branches and 12 outreach sites are located in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Hualapai Indian Community and other Northeast Valley neighborhoods. The Club offers more than 100 youth development programs emphasizing five core areas: the arts; character & leadership development; education & career development; health & life skills; and sports, fitness & recreation. For more information visit bgcs.org.