A Week of Reverie
Tonight we begin my favorite part of the year, kicking things off with a week of Dinners with Friends in Anacortes, La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley. The purpose of these simple events isn’t to raise money, but instead awareness, of all that Clubs do in their communities to effect change in the lives of the youth ages 6-18 we serve each year.
It’s a night that belongs to our members, as they serve in various capacities, presenting awards to one another, and speaking as they complete the Club-level Youth of the Year, and Jr. Youth of the Year process. It is their first official step in a process that includes a retreat in Ellensburg in January with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, and then our Youth of the Year Dinner on Wednesday, January 27th. That night one member will be crowned Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County, and follow in the footsteps of Justice Lively, who became the first Club kid from Skagit County to earn the Washington State Youth of the Year title in 2015.
Throughout this process, our Club kids can earn a minimum of $500 in College Scholarships for being selected to represent their Club, an additional $1,500 for representing the organization, and another $5,000 at the State level. Should they be successful regionally, they earn $40,000 more in scholarships, and a trip to the White House to participate nationally.
Historically, Washington State has had a very strong representation for Youth of the Year, many times earning the Pacific-West Region honor, therefore all our kids certainly have their work cut out for them. We know they will represent our communities well, and the growth that occurs in their lives as they transition through this process is tangible. Confidence, new public speaking and interview skills, attention to detail, work place preparation – the development happens and forever changes the lives and trajectories of those who participate.
For now though, I just look forward to hearing the stories from these dynamic teens and tweens as they courageously stand in front of strangers and their peers, share their challenges, and how the Club has helped them to overcome the many obstacles presented to them. Seeing all the kids win their awards and simply beam with pride and enthusiasm renews my own energy and passion to work harder so that we can ensure we stay focused strong on our mission: to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. With what I know I will see in the next week, we are doing just that.