For Kelsey, the moto, “Great Futures Start Here’’ couldn’t be more true.
A member of the Wiley H. Bates Boys & Girls Club for over 8 years, he attributes the club for keeping him grounded. Last year for his senior college essay Kelsey wrote, “My Mom had one rule for everybody; do your homework before my dad got home. In the chaos of our life I started to fall behind. While I managed to make honor roll throughout elementary and middle school, high school was very hard. My grandfather died; my mom became depressed, under these circumstances the Boys and Girls Club became my sanctuary.
I could hang out with friends and stay there until closing. I could starve of reality until I went home to little or no food.” Kelsey said he always wanted to be a part of the Junior Staff program at the Boys & Girls Club and during his senior year, he had reached a level of academic success to apply and was hired. Throughout his senior year, Kelsey was not only active as a Junior Staff member, he continued to achieve academic success earning between a 3.0 and a 3.50 each quarter, a member of the track and field team and on the SGA as the President of AVID scholars. Kelsey currently attends American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. His love of Boys & Girls Club inspired him to reach out to the local Boys & Girls Club in Springfield where he was hired and works part time while attending college. Through Kelsey’s experience as a Junior Staff, he developed an interest in youth development services and professions and has exemplified the goal of having teens return to the community as mentors, tutors, and youth development leaders.
Kyra has been a Boys & Girls Club member for as long as she can possibly remember and is a candidate for the 2015 Youth of the Year Award.
When she saw there was a Boys & Girls Club hiring fair in her local high school cafeteria, she knew instantly she wanted to be a part of the organization. Kyra was a perfect fit. As a student of the early entrance to the Academy of Health Professions, Kyra has a natural desire to help others. Taking classes in nursing and working with youth solidified her desire to continue with nursing in college. As a senior in high school, Kyra has already received her CNA certification and later this month plans on taking her test to receive her GNA certificate in Genealogy. With Kyra’s heavy academic schedule, being a part of the Junior Staff Career Development Program allowed her the flexibility to work and achieve a high level of academic success. This year, she was able to work 3 days a week while her taking a heavy academic course load. “Preparing for tomorrow by making a difference today” is a key theme in the design and implementation of the junior Staff Career Development Program and it is never more evident than in Kyra Saunders: tomorrow’s future pediatric nurse.
When Chris was born, he wasn’t expected to survive without the use of medical devices. With Asperger’s Syndrome, his mother was fearful that Chris would never find his place in the world. Living in the Bywater community, Chris was given the opportunity to become a member of the Boys & Girls Club.
After just one visit by Chief Professional Officer, Reggie Broddie, to his home Chris became a Club member. His fear of the most basic things (grass, water, and people) faded away over time and through programs such as Keystone and Junior Staff, it became clear that Chris’ future was in his hands. Those programs taught him leadership and gave him the social interaction skills he needed. He was awarded the Youth of the Year Award in 2007 and is currently attending Anne Arundel Community College.
Chris is the oldest member of the Junior Staff Career Development Program and is employed at the Bywater Boys & Girls Club. Recently he made history by being the first Junior Staff member to move into a Program Staff position.
Chris served this year as a Keystone Club Advisor and was a part of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America awarding the BGCAA the National Keystone Club of the Year Award.
Chris is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Academy at Towne Park. He was he was selected 1 of 11 out of 36 other Junior Staff to participate in a 12 week session featuring Towne Park’s worldwide executive leadership.
Like most Boys and Girls Club members, Omar's personal story is filled with challenges. However, with the commitment of Boys and Girls Club staff, the strong influence of his mother and grandmother, and his own commitment to succeed, Omar has overcome these challenges and is on the road to a bright future.
This is Omar's story: "My grandmother, Granny Terry encouraged my mother to become a Club member when she was ten years old. Granny knew the Club was a safe place to go, away from the bad influences on the street. Mom told me that as a member, the Club gave her focus and kept her on the straight and narrow. She was motivated to finish High School and attend Community College. She has a great job now with the USNA as a Clinical Coordinator in their Dental Clinic. As a young single mother, my mom had to rely on her family to help with my care while she went to work and school. As I learned later, this was not unusual for the kids at the Club.
I was just a baby when Granny Terry first took me to the Bywater Branch of the Boys and Girls Club where she was a volunteer. She'd wheel me in the stroller so that she could counsel troubled kids, talk with parents, help with homework and lend a hand with summer camp. When I was ten years old, I joined the Bywater Club. It has been such a positive place to go every day, away from the drugs and street gangs. Over the years I learned to be a leader, build my own self-confidence and reach out to other troubled kids. In a neighborhood filled with judgment, stress and worries - the Club was my oasis - a place where my friends and I could go and be ourselves, express ourselves and truly be who we wanted to be."
What Omar doesn't say in his story is that because of his achievements he was named the Maryland State Youth of the Year - the highest honor a Club member can receive. He is also employed as a Junior Staff member at the Boys and Girls Club where he has been a member of the Keystone Club, a small leadership development club that prepares Club members for community service. Omar graduated from High School with honors and received a scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina.
Tyrone, a Junior Staff member at the Bywater Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, (BGCAA) is known for his enthusiasm on the job and on the basketball court. As a soft-spoken young man, Tyrone is commonly overlooked for his true talents. His skills at work and on the basketball court have far surpassed anyone’s expectation of a young man his age. Tyrone is a hard working individual who has not missed a day of work in 2 years.
Tyrone was diagnosed with autism as a high-school student. He made it all the way through school and up until that point only for his math teacher to realize that there was something very unique in the way he comprehended the lessons of class. She brought this to the attention of Tyrone’s counselor who was able to secure resources for him to be assessed and accommodated for his disability. Tyrone’s disability has not in any way limited his ability to serve within the BGCAA. Tyrone leads daily in the educational initiatives and vocational programs of the Club.
Tyrone will turn 21 this year and aspires to become a Contractor/Home Builder for HUD homes in impoverished communities throughout Maryland. The Junior Staff Career Development Program has supported Tyrone in every endeavor and has provided a stable, functional and disciplined regimen through employment that has ultimately prepared him for a long and successful career despite his disability. The Junior Staff Career Development program is set to work with Tyrone to prepare essential documentations for hire and to align him with an educational program that will prepare him for a career in Construction and Home Building.
The Club isn’t just fun, it’s a place of love and inspiration. It taught me that mistakes aren’t failures but lessons.
Mikayla, 2019 Youth of the Year
TODD W., 15
I’ve experienced many opportunities I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the Club
DESMOND B., 18
You can't let your past hinder your future. Boys & Girls Clubs helped me realize that. I was shy because of my past experience. The people at Boys & Girls Clubs helped me to learn, grow and establish leadership skills
CHRISTOPHER H., 17
There is no substitute for hard work. The Club has taught me to have an assiduous work ethic.