Chamber Chat - Boys & Girls Youth of the Year

Jan 29

By Meg Moss


For nearly 70 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the nation’s most inspiring teens and their incredible journeys. Stories of outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle have made Youth of the Year America’s premier leadership and recognition program for teens.


Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be the National Youth of the Year, serving as an ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth as well as a voice for all of our nation’s young people. National Youth of the Year winners have achieved success in a variety of industries, including entertainment, politics, business and sports.


Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state and regional Youth of the Year events. State Youth of the Year winners receive $5,000 in college scholarships. Regional Youth of the Year finalists each receive $10,000 in college scholarships, renewable for four years up to $40,000. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000.


The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina (BGCCC) selected six youth finalists who prepared for and competed in the local organization’s annual Youth of the Year competition this past week. Candidates prepared speeches and written essays, and participated in in-person interviews with a panel of judges. I was honored to be asked to be a judge, along with Mayor Chet Mann, and Dr. Pamela Senegal from Central Carolina Community College. As judges, we had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary young people. Just a few of the questions that were asked pertained to what human-relation skill sets the teens have learned at the Club, what they aspire to be, how they overcome difficult situations, and what they’ve learned while completing community service activities.


The winner and the runner-up candidates were then featured at the annual BGCCC Youth of the Year Celebration & Dinner this past Thursday. The celebration took place at Sanford Contractors, and featured WRAL news reporter and 1973 Boys Clubs of America National “Boy of the Year”, Gilbert Baez. This year’s local winner was announced as Diamond Evans, a 10th grader at Lee Early College. Evans has been attending the local club for five years, and aspires to be an attorney. Also announced was the runner up, Jasmine Williams. She is also a sophomore at Lee Early College, has attended the club for two years, and looks forward to earning a degree in nursing.


Daniel Simmons, the CEO of the BGCCC stated that "This program is our opportunity to further develop our Club members, recognize them before the community, and set them on a path to greatness. Club members who earn the title "Youth of the Year" embody the bedrock values of our organization: academic excellence, leadership, service to others, and healthy lifestyles. We thank all of our supporters for playing a vital role in the development of these awesome young people."


Congratulations to Diamond, and all the students who had the courage to enter, and participate in the Youth of the Year competition. You each showed the importance of the Clubs in your personal lives, and we appreciate you sharing with the judges how community service has helped shaped you in your journey towards adulthood.

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