GREAT FUTURES START HERE: 2014 Youth of the Year

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta currently has three unit operations (Fuqua, Peachcrest and Bellwood), is a member of the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta, and is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The purpose of our Boys & Girls Clubs is to provide youth development services and to promote the health, physical, social, educational, vocational and character development of boys and girls.

Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability. Clubs recognize members ages 14 to 18 as Youth of the Month winners and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competitions. State winners each receive a $1,000 scholarship and participate in regional competitions. Five regional winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States.

Meet Jasmine Maddox, our Bellwood Club Youth of the Year! Jasmine has been selected to represent The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta in the Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year state competition.

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Jasmine Maddox photographed with Bellwood Club Director, Charlie Smith

What the Boys & Girls Club Means to Me
by Jasmine Maddox

Anthony Hamilton once stated, “I learned patience, perseverance, and my dedication. Now I really know myself and I know my voice. It’s a voice of pain and victory.” Hamilton’s quote impacts that dedication through life is possible and mistakes don’t defy who you are as an individual. This quote is similar to my journey through my personal life, and Bellwood Boys & Girls Club. I started coming to Bellwood at the age of five. Here I have discovered that I have a voice in the world, my morals are the road map to my goals, and what my impact will be on the next generation. From attending Bellwood I have learned to always have strength, serenity , and the mentality to not let struggles impact the goals that are trying to be met.

Strength is defined as the state of being strong . Strength can be defined as a moral that I have lived by, such as “No matter what is thrown in your path, you have to find a way to over think the small things.” My life has had tremendous ups and down that can be labeled as the experiences that make me who I am today. I grew with my paternal aunt, and that was is what strikes a lot of people who don’t know me. Questions that are always asked are, “Where are you parents?” or “Why don’t you live with your parents?”. Those questions remind me that even though my parents weren’t always around to see me achieve that I was there for myself. I never gave up. The Boys & Girls Club is a safe haven. Here I have found countless peers that are going through the same situation that has been raveling the long-lost childhood I once wanted. I wanted parents there for everything. I didn’t realize until my teen years that my two role models were staring me in the face . Mr. Charlie Smith has been the father that I never had, and Mrs. McBurse-Holt has been the mother figure that has shown the proper example of how a young girl can rise into a young woman.

Serenity is defined as the state of being calm. At the club, I learned that if you laugh every once in a while your struggles don’t define you. I have had previous things that have scared me, but the strength the club has given shows I am superior to my past. The serenity that was that no matter what your background is, people actually care about you and are pushing you to become bigger things in life.

My goals have made me become aware that I can be here with a broken past but coming out with the results of a crystal light fixture. Being apart of the club has made me realize that dreams come true. Excellence isn’t the exception it is the rule. To hope is to try to to do is to realize. I am a King’s kid and as one, I plan to walk in the royalty of what my GOD has planned for me. I plan to serve my community with dignity and grace, giving back to all the Club kids that come after me. My club has given me the ability to turn my life around to make my past, a memory. I can never truly ever repay my club for what they’ve done for me. I can only walk in my success and make them proud of my progress, learning each day to become a productive, responsible citizen because when I was one of the kids that needed them most, they never forsook me and always embraced me.

GREAT FUTURES START HERE: Peachcrest Club Youth of the Year

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta currently has three unit operations (Fuqua, Peachcrest and Bellwood), is a member of the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta, and is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The purpose of our Boys & Girls Clubs is to provide youth development services and to promote the health, physical, social, educational, vocational and character development of boys and girls.

Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability. Clubs recognize members ages 14 to 18 as Youth of the Month winners and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competitions. State winners each receive a $1,000 scholarship and participate in regional competitions. Five regional winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States.

Meet Christopher Clark, our Peachcrest Club Youth of the Year!

_DSC7563Christopher Clark photographed with Peachrest Director, Keon Merriett

What the Boys and Girls Club Means to Me
by Christopher Clark

As I approached the big, red doors of Peachcrest Boys and Girls Club, I felt as if my entire summer was ruined. No more ten-hour naps, full television access, and dibs on the good snacks before everyone else came home. I was preparing for the worst experience of my life, this being my first summer camp and all, I didn’t know what to expect. I imagined screaming kids, loud whistles, annoying camp counselors, horrible food, and a complete waste of time, and when I began to go there, I got everything I thought I would. I stayed to myself a lot, not letting my guard down for a second, it took forever for me to interact, and even attempt to have some type of conversation with the people there. In that time, I was in a bad place, not really understanding myself, mad at the world because they didn’t understand, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, I didn’t know that the exact place that I despised, was the same exact place where I needed to be. It was a day like any other day outside, the coach at the time, tired of urging me to get involved, just sat patiently aside with me as we watched the other kids play soccer. I was beginning to give up on this whole summer camp idea, and go beg my mom to let me stay home, for the hundredth time, until they asked me to throw back the stray ball, that came rolling my way 5 miles per hour. After that, they asked me to play and of course I said yes, because at that time soccer was my life, after that first kick, the rest was history. I began to interact with many more people, and soon became very popular around the club. I also started to make great relationships with the staff, running errands with them whenever they needed something, helping them put up posters, answering the phone at the front desk, you name it I did it. At this point the club wasn’t just a facility, a day care, it was home. I became more engaged in the club when I was old enough to come into the teen center; there I made amazing friendships with some lifelong friends. We did so many different programs and activities, I couldn’t keep up, from numerous field trips, and out-reach programs, and volunteer work, and just plain fun, the club and I became inseparable. Not only was I finding new ways of helping people, I was finding out new things about myself. The different theatrical and musical performances we put on ignited my love of music and entertainment, which is why I want to major in Mass Communications. The constant drilling of furthering our education and making a way for our future is why I have two scholarships to two different colleges, and more on the way.  The excessive speeches and lectures about loving yourself, and loving others, and being confident, is why I stand before you today. See the club has changed my entire life, and I owe them everything. If it wasn’t for the warm, family like feeling I got, each day I walked through those big red doors and signed in, the numerous “Hey Chris” and heys I got,  the hugs and handshakes, and the help of God I received, I couldn’t have made it to where I am now. The Boys and Girls Club, especially the teen center, were more than just friends, and staff members, were a really big, dysfunctional family. The people here truly care about us, and try to help in the best way they know how, even when we don’t deserve it. So what exactly does the Boys and Girls clubs mean to me? Well it’s not just a holding cell where you wait for your parents to pick you up, but to me it’s a second home, really a first, because I probably spend more time there than at me real home. The Boys and Girls Club is a safe haven for us, a place we can all go and be ourselves without social persecution, a place all our own, where we learn and grow, and start take steps towards our future. The Boys and Girls Club is my comfort zone, a place where I can be myself, a place to grow, a place to learn, a place of pure happiness.