For much of her youth, Mona Dixon was homeless. She moved from shelter to shelter along with her mother, sister and brother. At times, her home base was a cardboard box where she did her homework by streetlight. Many nights, her family had to split up so that each person had a warm place to lay his or her head for the night. When the shelters were full, the sidewalk became their resting place. When she was 13, Mona went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley in Tempe, Ariz., looking for stability, comfort and support. Back then, she just called it “help.” When she arrived, she didn’t have $20 for her annual dues, so a Club staff person paid them for her. At last, she had a kitchen to go to when she was hungry and a quiet place with a computer to do her homework. The Club enabled her to dramatically change her life’s path and, ultimately, have a truly great future.
Mona graduated third in her class at Tempe High School with a 3.92 GPA. She was the captain of the varsity basketball team and a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Math Team. At her Club, Mona learned the value of community service. As a member of the teen leadership and service group, she organized canned food drives and park clean-ups. She volunteered in a literacy program, reading to children at a shelter where she once lived. In 2010, Mona won the distinguished title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. Like decades of winners before her, Mona was installed by the President of the United States in a meeting at the Oval Office. Traveling to the White House to meet President Obama, she was thrilled to ride in a car with another Club alum, Denzel Washington. Now an honors student at Arizona State University, Mona is studying business. She plans to obtain her master’s degree and pursue a career as an international retail manager.