On the evening of Thursday, March 23 hundreds of guests including donors, community partners, volunteers, board members, staff and Club members gathered to celebrate our outstanding youth at the 29th Annual Steak 'N Burger Dinner. The evening included talent acts by Club members, recognition of our top volunteers, awards for community partners, and speeches by our four Youth of the Year Finalists. The evening concluded with Scott Russell of Ferguson Enterprises announcing Amanda Minick as the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula Youth of the Year!
Amanda won over the crowd and earned a standing ovation after sharing her incredible story of rising above adversity. From a young age, Amanda has overcome sexual assault, personal tragedies, and family conflicts. Through all of this, there has been one safe constant: her local Boys & Girls Club and the Unit Director who she loves like a father.
"My Boys & Girls Club has taught me to keep my chin up and to carry my head high. My Club has helped me see my future and showed me how to help others," Amanda said about the impact of the Club.
Far less significant experiences have hindered an individual's success, but Amanda has overcome her tragedies and setbacks with a grace that is beyond her 17 years. Her Unit Director, Gary Rippel, said "Amanda doesn't dwell on the past, but focuses on the future and the success that awaits her. Amanda is a role model, a leader, and a compassionate young lady who puts others first and is focused on helping others overcome their struggles in life."
As Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula's Youth of the Year, Amanda will serve as an ambassador for the organization. The winner is also presented a scholarship and is entered into the State Youth of the Year competition for a chance to advance to Regional and National competition and represent Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Learn more about Amanda in her profile on an earlier blog post.
This post is part of a series featuring our Youth of the Year Finalists. Learn more about the Youth of the Year Process HERE. Meet She'ana HERE, Amanda HERE, and Amere HERE.
DeSean Williams is a self-assured leader. Overcoming low self-esteem from bullying, he has already proven success and was named 2016 Youth of the Year.
As a young boy without a father, DeSean struggled to teach himself how to be a man. He has said “because I lacked inner confidence and strength, I struggled with who I really was and who ‘the streets’ wanted me to be. I contemplated joining a gang, which at the time I thought would provide that acceptance I desired.” Without a positive male role model, this inner turmoil was fueled by bullying and led DeSean to thoughts of suicide.
Luckily, DeSean found himself at the Crossroads Village Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs and found the support he so desperately needed. Staff member Cameron Bertrand had such a positive impact on DeSean that when he was assigned as Area Director of two new locations, DeSean switched Clubs to stay in daily contact with him.
DeSean has found his passion as the coach of the Pinedale Manor Mustangs cheerleading team. Other Club activities he participates in include Passport to Manhood and Keystone Club. He is also extremely proud to be a leader and role model as a Junior Staff member.
“Now, I can legitimately say, ‘I’m happy.’ I am my own person, and while I might not fit into other people’s boxes, my Club taught me to have confidence in myself and my importance,” said DeSean.
At school DeSean is a member of the Hurricane Cheerleading team, school chorus, and FBLA. His favorite subjects are Economics and Personal Finance. He is completing his senior year and currently has a 3.1 GPA.
DeSean plans to attend Norfolk State University and complete a degree in business. He hopes to return to BGCA after college to serve as a Unit Director and be the role model for youth that Mr. Cameron has been to him. His long-term career goal is to eventually serve as President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula.
Do you think DeSean will win a second year in a row to be our 2017 Youth of the Year?
You can meet the other candidates HERE.
This post is part of a series on our Youth of the Year Finalists. Learn more about our Youth of the Year process in our earlier post here, and meet our other Finalists Amere and Amanda.
Sheana Stroud is a humanitarian. In her home life, school life, and Club life, Sheana does her best to ensure the needs of others are met.
Sheana joined Boys & Girls Clubs 10 years ago at our Mathews Unit. She remembers walking in the first day and being surrounded with screams of excitement and joy and knowing then that she would love it.
Knowing how involved with the Club Sheana is, it is hard to believe she has not always been outgoing. She says she was very shy as a kid and didn’t like meeting new people. "The Club helped me socialize and be more comfortable speaking with people, which helped a lot when starting high school and tried out for the cheerleading team," said Sheana. Now in her senior year, Sheana is honored to be team captain!
In the future, Sheana hopes to work for Child Protection Services. She realized she has a love for working with children, and Boys & Girls Clubs has helped her discover her passion. “I started thinking about the kids who aren’t able to have the opportunity I had when I was a kid… I want to show those kids that good things do happen for good people. I want to be the person to help them with their financial issues or their household problems,” said Sheana.
As a Junior Staff member, Sheana already has opportunity to act as a mentor. She enjoys talking with the younger members and explaining the difference between good and bad behavior and how members can improve behavior.
Beyond the Club, Sheana partakes in numerous community service projects. She cleans local parks and beaches, participates in school service opportunities, and Adopt-a-Family. She particularly enjoys being able to help a family in need during the holidays.
It is clear that Sheana cares deeply about others and her community.
Do you think she will be our 2017 Youth of the Year?
This profile is part of a series featuring our Youth of the Year Finalists. To learn more about our Youth of the Year Program and how we select a winner, you can visit our previous blog post.
Amanda is a fighter. Literally, as a certified Tae Kwon Do instructor, and figuratively, overcoming horrific childhood experiences.
From the early age of six-years-old, Amanda has overcome sexual assault, personal tragedies, and family conflicts. Through all of this, there has been one safe constant: her local Boys & Girls Club and the Unit Director who she loves like a father. “My Boys & Girls Club has taught me to keep my chin up and to carry my head high. My Club has helped me see my future and showed me how to help others,” Amanda said about the impact of the Club.
Far less significant experiences have hindered an individual’s success, but Amanda has overcome her tragedies and setbacks with a grace that his beyond her 17 years. Her Unit Director, Gary Rippel, said “Amanda doesn’t dwell on the past, but focuses on the future and the success that awaits her. Amanda is a role model, a leader, and a compassionate young lady who puts others first and is focused on helping others overcome their struggles in life.”
At the Club, Amanda enjoys taking field trips, especially college tours, and the annual Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation summer camp. She assists with holiday parties and helps organize the Adopt-a-Highway program. Younger members enjoy attending Tae Kwon Do classes led by Amanda, a school blackbelt and certified instructor.
Amanda is currently a Junior with an impressive 3.2 GPA. At school she enjoys participating in choir, art, and DECA, a marketing organization. After graduation, Amanda hopes to earn a degree in Criminal Justice and to pursue a career as a profiler for the FBI.
“Amanda is one of the most deserving people I know, and it would be an honor to have her represent the organization as the 2017 Youth of the Year.” – Gary Rippell, Unit Director
Actual (not really) footage of Amanda being amazing:
So, do you think Amanda will be the 2017 Youth of the Year?
Stay tuned for more Youth of the Year Finalist spotlights. You can meet Amere here.
This profile is the first in a series of four featuring our Youth of the Year Finalists. To learn more about our Youth of the Year Program and how we select a winner, you can visit last week's blog post here.
Amere Langley is a renaissance man. He is successful in many areas of his life including sports, academics, and music.
Amere could probably do this on the first try.
At 16-years-old, Amere is the youngest of our Youth of the Year Finalists, but he has the presence of someone older. In the past few years he has faced great loss with the passing of his grandfather and great-uncle. Despite only seeing his grandfather four or five times a year, he had an incredible impact on Amere. After his passing in 2014, Amere struggled with guilt, wishing he had spent more time with his role model. One year later in 2015, his great-uncle passed away leaving Amere heartbroken. It was during this time that Amere really understood the saying "you don't know what you have 'til it's gone."
Amere feels extremely lucky to still have his father in his life, but also feels that he has family at his Boys & Girls Clubs. He credits Program Director, Marc Lattimore, and former Unit Director, Mike Mullins, with putting him on the path to success.
It is clear that Amere found that path and has stuck to it. Amere is a sophomore and is already deeply involved in many extracurricular activities. He is a member of the Math Honor Society, runs on the track team, is Vice-President of the French Club, is in the honors choir vocal ensemble, and has an impressive 3.6 GPA while taking 2 AP and 3 Honors classes.
Amere also regularly participates in Boys & Girls Club activities at the Peninsula Unit, where he has attended since 2012. Roller skating, musical jump rope, and arts & crafts are some of his favorites, but going on field trips is the highlight of his experiences because he enjoys representing his Club while out in the community. He also represents himself well within the Club. As a graduate of the 1st annual YES Academy and 2nd annual Ready 2 Work program, Amere has learned career skills that make him a valuable Junior Staff member. He often assists in running programs for younger members and helps to serve EatSMART meals. Unit Director, Josh Goffigan, said "he is a leader and a role model for the younger kids and even kids that are his age."
In the future, Amere hopes to own a successful business. He is not yet positive about what he wants to study, but higher education is definitely in his future. He is interested in pursuing a PhD, however he has not decided on a subject. He’s leaning towards mathematics or business and said he would love to attend Harvard’s business school.
Do you think Amere will be our 2017 Youth of the Year?
You can meet our other Youth of the Year Finalists by following our blog. New biographies will be released over the following weeks.
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