"Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain."
- Helen Keller
|May 19, 2013|
They've Made A Village
February 8, 2001
It's said that raising happy and healthy kids takes a village. The Boys & Girls Club solution? Build one. A bona fide Boys & Girls Club "Youth of the Year" writes that he just needed someone from that village to care enough to pass him the ball.
For more GoodThings coverage of the Boys & Girls Clubs, read An Extended Family.
GoodThings CEO Barcy Fisher talks about judging the Youth of the Year event.
Every day from age eight to thirteen, I would walk home after school, never quite sure what I'd be coming home to. Most days, I would realize my house was not the place I wanted to be. Fortunately, I could escape to the Boys & Girls Club a block away.
During this period of my life, my father was a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict. Since I was a child, he has been in and out of recovery. It seemed like he was never home, spending his days at work and his nights at the bar. He was a loving man, but at that time in my life, he was incapable of conquering his disease. If my step-mom was not at the bar with him, she would be zeroed in on the television or preoccupied playing computer games. Walking into this scenario almost everyday usually turned me right around and seconds later, I would be at the Boys & Girls Club.
My first memory of the Boys & Girls Club is one of the most vivid and influential of them all for me. The very first time I walked through those doors, I met a counselor named Clarence. He immediately got me involved by throwing me into a basketball game. I was not what you would call highly athletic. Don't get me wrong, I love sports. I just was not the most talented clown in the circus. Clarence had a basketball game on Saturday, and I was one of the worst kids on the court. But even though I couldn't hit a shot to save my life, Clarence kept passing me the ball. After the game, I asked Clarence why he kept passing the ball to me after I would miss the shots. He then returned my question with a question and asked if I tried my hardest. I said yes. He then asked if I had fun. I said yes. Clarence said that was all that mattered.
I then understood what my family had been trying to teach me all these years. There were times when I would lose a baseball game and cry about it. Members of my family would say the exact same thing that Clarence said to me, but for some reason I would not hear them. It was not until that Saturday at the club that I realized what life was all about, what the Boys & Girls Club was all about. You will succeed if you try your hardest and enjoy yourself. You may not have the higher score, but you will still be a winner.
One day when I was eleven, I stayed at the Club until it closed at 9:00 pm and returned to an empty house without a key to get in. I ran back to the Club and luckily a staff person, Kim, was still there. She opened the doors for me, and I explained my situation. I wasn't sure why she stayed, but I was thankful that she spent the next two hours at the club with me playing Connect Four until my father returned home. This made me feel like someone really cared. It also improved my attitude at the Club because after that, the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint the people who were there to help me out. From that day forward, I tried my hardest to impress the staff with my actions, not because I had to, but because I honestly wanted to.
When I was thirteen years old, Bob, the most amazing athletic director in the world, gave me the opportunity to coach a flag football team. I thought to myself, "Yeah, I can coach. I just have to teach the kids to try hard and have fun." I took this responsibility seriously and had a blast with my team. The feeling that I got after each practice was unlike anything. It gave me self-confidence, pride, and satisfaction. I loved it so much, I vowed I would return the following year. And so my coaching career began.
What does the Boys & Girls Club mean to me? It's a place where I learned how to improve myself. It's a place where staff and volunteers are willing to put their lives on hold to help those in need. It means trying hard with everything you do, having fun, and enjoy life and all it has to offer. If you remain positive and do these things, success in accomplishing your goals will always be within reach.
Robert Cannon (write to Robert)
Youth of the Year
Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Washington
Every year, the BGCA of King County honors ten youth who have demonstrated a well-roundedness consistent with the Club's commitment to service, academic performance, spiritual values, and community leadership. Although Robert of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club was this year's winner, in truth, they're all winners. goodthings is pleased to feature the stories of each “Youth of the Year” here on our Web site. We are proud to be a sponsor of this inspirational and important award.
Rukari Austin (North Seattle Boys & Girls Club)
Katie Christopher (Redmond Boys & Girls Club)
Cassandra Einheuser (Kirkland Boys & Girls Club)
Jeslyn Miller (Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club)
Slavik Mironchuk (Federal Way Boys & Girls Club)
Tsega Mulu (Rotary Boys & Girls Club)
Nina Rogers (Wallingford Boys & Girls Club)
Shandrika Shavers (Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club)
Tyler Weinzirl (Southwest Boys & Girls Club)
A word from GoodThings CEO Barcy Fisher:
"It is all too rare to hear about and meet young people who are truly making a difference in the lives of their families and communities. It is rare, not because there are too few amazing young people, but because there are too few outlets to celebrate young people's contributions. The Boys & Girls Clubs' Youth of the Year event, thankfully, is one such outlet. This year, I had the honor and privilege of being one of seven judges to choose King County's Youth of the Year. What an amazing opportunity for me and my fellow judges! A chance to meet, up close and personal, ten extraordinary and talented young people -- each with a unique story, each with a passion, each with a drive to do good and be good. These are the young people we need to hear more about. These are the role models for our children and ourselves. I applaud each Youth of the Year, winners all. And I applaud the Boys & Girls Club for providing a safe and nurturing space for teens everywhere, a place where kids grow up and learn how to give back."
Send your own stories about how the Boys & Girls Club changed your life or that of someone you know.