The Youth of the Year competition was established in 1947 by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It is the premier recognition program for Club members, who are selected for their service to the Club and community, academic success, strong moral character; life goals, poise and public speaking ability.
The winner selected from the city competition will represent Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland at the state-wide Youth of the Year competition in March. The Oregon Youth of the Year receives a college scholarship, then goes on to compete for the title of Western Regional Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.
On January 20, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland held our annual City Youth of the Year competition. Six extraordinary youth, one from each Club, competed. Each of our youth gave speeches and were interviewed by a panel of judges. The theme for their speeches was what the Boys & Girls Clubs means to them. Below are some quotes from each candidate:
"The Wattles Boys & Girls Club has made me who I am today. When I entered high school, I didn't think I'd go to college. Now I'm a senior and I've been accepted to two four-year universities." -Bryan, Wattles Club
"I want to be a youth ambassador to help tackle some of the biggest issues that face youth today. I want to help develop the next generation of young people." -John, Jack Will & Rob Club
"Without it , I wouldn't be the man I am today... I owe myself to the Boys & Girls Club. I feel like it impacted me by giving me a safe place to go to every day after school." -Nathan, Meyer Memorial Club
"I feel like I am a part of the Boys & Girls Club, and my voice will always be heard." -Krystal, Regence Club
"I have gained invaluable leadership skills during my time in the Keystone Club program, and through this experience I now see myself as a leader to my peers and younger kids at the Club and in the community." -Nehemiah, Trail Blazers Club
"The Boys & Girls Club has been the experience of a lifetime. I really mean it when I say I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't come to this wonderful place." -Roselynn, Inukai Club
We are so proud of all of our candidates, and the judges had a very hard time selecting the winner. Our winner was John Grall from the Jack Will & Rob Club. He is a senior at Camas High School and has been a Club member for 11 years. His anticipated career is in politics.
December can be a month of both joy and sadness for our youth, so we strive to make it the best possible for them to help fulfill both needs and wants. Payless ShoeSource provided us with 150 $20 gift cards so our youth could go shopping for brand new shoes. And thanks to Fred Meyer and Portland Trail Blazer, Wesley Mathews, coats were collected during the month of December in the 5th annual coat drive benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland. Hundreds of coats were collected and given to our members. We had the honor of assisting with the Parkrose School District Food & Gift Drive. Our Parkrose Club staff joined school staff and community volunteers to assist in the collection and distribution of 8,000 lbs of food and 500 gifts to 160 Parkrose families. The month was completed with all Clubs hosting a Holiday Celebration event. With the help of many community partners and Giving Trees, all of our kids were able to receive gifts of toys and clothing. Many of them were able to meet Santa Clause for the first time as well!
On December 16, the Jack Will and Rob Club unveiled a state-of-the-art “Tween Tech Center,” to help spark kids’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and prepare young people for 21st century success. Funded by Samsung, the Tween Tech Center will be a modernized technology classroom for Club members with the latest mobile devices for learning, including a custom STEM curriculum and eBooks on Samsung tablets adn laptops. Developed by education leader Scholastic, the custom STEM curriculum, “Building Blocks,” will assist kids’ education and literacy goals and encourage Club tweens to work together and invent creative, engineering-based solutions for community needs.
90 youth, families, and community members including our Portland Mayor, Charlie Hales and his wife, Nancy, attended a Peace Rally organized by Regence Club teens as part of the New Columbia's Youth Empowerment Solutions group, part of the STRYVE initiative, which stands for Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere.
And finally, we were honored to be voted as Oregon's 6th Most Admired Non-Profit company, which is selected by Oregon CEO's.
We are always looking for fun ways to not only raise money, but to create fun events for Club members and families to attend. Our newest fun family event, Pumpkins & Pins, took place on October 26 at Grand Central Bowling. Local artists were invited to carve giant pumpkins which were sold to local businesses. These were on display at the event and families were invited to come see the pumpkins, enjoy a day of bowling, play arcade games, paint bowling pins or bid on items in our silent auction. It was a great event and fun was had by all!
One of the Boys & Girls Clubs' priority outcomes for our members is living a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, making healthy lifestyle choices and committing to a life of fitness. November was Healthy Lifestyles Months at our Clubs. Staff and kids took the Chris Dudley Foundation Live Active, Dream Big pledge to get moving for just 30 minutes a day during the 30 days of November. Everyday, staff members lead Club members through a physical activity. To show their support, the administrative staff held a competition among all staff to get moving during the month as well.
A large percentage of our Club members are low income and on free & reduced lunch plans. Many of our Clubs serve hot meals to its members and all Clubs serve healthy snacks daily. Thanks to a generous gift of $77,500 from the Ford Motor Company and their Ford Focus on Hunger Campaign, 64 Boys & Girls Clubs across the Pacific Northwest will be able provide holiday meals to kids & their families. As part of this, all of our Clubs served a Thanksgiving feast for its members and families.
Intentional programming focusing on Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles, and Good Character & Citizenship is the core of our afterschool programs.
Club members at our Regence Club have been digging into various chemistry projects recently. Activities and projects have included making silly putty, making healthy AND tasty smoothies, constructing lava lamps, creating bracelets out of recycled plastic, watching how the colors in M&Ms separate in liquid, and taking a visit to Whitaker Ponds Nature Park to explore the Columbia Slough.
Thank you to all of our donors who make these enriching activities possible for our Club members! We appreciate your support and commitment to enabling all youth to reach their full potential.
Great Futures Start Here.
At our Inukai Family Club, the theme of our programming has not only been fun, but educational too. During our Nature Exploration Camp for incoming 4th through 6th graders, our Club members got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a marine biologist.
Each member was paired with one or two other members, and they were able to dissect a real perch specimen. Each perch came with its own disposable tray and tools (all age appropriate), so our members had everything needed to get the most out of their experience. Members were instructed on the anatomy of the perch, and were able to locate and observe the various parts and organs of the fish. Some of our perch even had eggs!
Our members loved every minute of this activity! They not only got to learn a lot about the perch, but also how cool science can really be.
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Vice President of Development