For the past 17 years, the Boys and Girls Club has been my second home. It has provided me with many opportunities to develop the leadership, social and personal skills and attributes that will help me to be successful in life and have a future that I may not have had if it were not for the Boys and Girls Club.
During my youth I was tempted at school and in the neighborhood to do drugs and alcohol. The Club’s programs taught me the importance of remaining drug and alcohol free and helped me fight those temptations. At school and in the neighborhood, I was teased and bullied. The Club was a safe place for my sister and me to be. Club programs like the Power Hour, through which adult mentors, staff and older peers help youth complete their homework, helped me do well throughout high school and continue to help me in college, even though when I was young, some of my teachers thought I wouldn’t make it past the 8th grade.
During my sophomore year of high school, I was nominated by Club staff to be the “Youth of the Year.” I won the local and state level competition and was awarded a $25,000 college scholarship by Oprah Winfrey’s “Angel Network.” I now have completed three years of college and I am grateful for what the Club and Oprah have done for me.
I loved playing sports and traveling with the Boys and Girls Club. I played basketball in their gym, which was open year-round, and participated in summer trips kayaking down the Snake and Green Rivers and winter trips snow shoeing in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I also traveled with the Club to attend Keystone Club conferences. All in all, these trips allowed me to visit places that many people will never have the opportunity to see.
The Club means so much to me because they offered refuge from life’s storms and trials. When I was a youth, the Club taught me lessons about diversity and gave me the hope I needed to fulfill my dreams and become successful. And one day, I hope to donate to the Club and perhaps even serve on the Board or be the Director, so that I can give back what they gave to me, my family and the thousands of other youth they served. My memories of the Boys and Girls Club of South Valley will always be a part of my life and I hope that one day I have children who will grow up to have similar happy memories of an afterschool program.