2016 NH State Youth of the Year
“The Boys & Girls Club of Manchester has supported me along my path towards success.”
When I was 3, my father and I left my mother behind in the Dominican Republic for a better life in the United States. It would be two years before my family would be reunited. During that time my father tried to enroll me at the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester thinking it was a school.
We lived across the street and he saw children walk in and out of the Club. But it wasn’t a school; it is a place far more special, which I discovered when I became a member four years later as a student in the third grade. My dad and I didn’t know it at the time, but my enrollment in the Club would shape the course of my future.
Growing up as an only child of struggling immigrants has fueled my drive to succeed. My father never finished high school, and while my mother is educated she can’t work in the United States because of the English language barrier. Ever since I can remember, my family has lived from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. We have lived with the aid of government benefits like food stamps. Often times my mother and I have waited out in the cold to receive food from food trucks that come to our neighborhood. Seeing my parents try their hardest to give me a good life has made me want to make sure that their struggles and sacrifices are worth it by achieving my goals.
The Boys & Girls Club has played a crucial role in helping me overcome the challenges that I have had to endure. When my mother came to the United States she enrolled me in several education programs one of which was the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester’s learning center. Josh was a learning center staff member who helped me throughout middle school and the beginning of my high school career. He was easy to talk to and constantly helped me with my math homework. Sometimes I even helped him work on his rusty Spanish speaking skills. My parents have stressed the need for education, and staff members like Josh have supported me in gaining a quality education.
Today I have gone from being taught by staff members like Josh to helping young Club members and my neighbor’s daughter with homework. By participating in Club activities like Torch Club, Keystone and Diplomas 2 Degrees, I have overcome my shyness and have become a leader. The Boys & Girls Club has helped me fulfill my education goals. I want to pursue a career in education, law, or medicine and Diane, Boys & Girls Club of Manchester CEO, has helped me connect with people in the fields that I’m interested in.
By being involved with the Club, I have gained a strong sense of community, confidence and drive for academic success. Thanks to the Boys & Girls Club I have become a better person and have learned to face life’s big challenges with courage, discipline and dedication.