Club Announces 2017 Youth of the Year
On behalf of our Board of Directors, Staff, and Members, we are proud to announce that Kiara Gonzalez, an 18-year-old Club Member, has been selected as our 2017 Youth of the Year! Kiara has been named for the second time, having received this honor in 2014 as well.
Selected among several local outstanding youth, Kiara will compete against 41 other Boys & Girls Club members for the Massachusetts Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). The Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. As the new Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Kiara is a true example of an extraordinary young lady recognized by BGCA for her leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle.
Kiara has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee for eleven years. In her time with us, she has become one of the stand-out members of our organization.
Kiara is a senior at Chicopee High School. After high school, Kiara plans to attend Holyoke Community College where she will begin her journey into social work. She is counting on her “failure is not an option” attitude to help her with college. She hopes to serve as an inspiration to others. Kiara says, “Someday, I want people to look at me and say, ‘because of you I didn’t give up.'”
While volunteering is something we strive to instill in all of our members, Kiara is an exception. She has donated countless hours of time to the Club, helping to distribute snack, filing paperwork, and most notably in our concession stand. Whether for a fundraising event, turkey dinner, or for a Club event, Kiara is there. In what has become known as “Kiara’s Kitchen,” she recruits other volunteers, oversees the stand operation, and ensures things are cleaned and organized.
Kiara struggled academically when she first entered high school. “I was soon enrolled in Power Hour, the after school homework help program at the Club,” said Kiara. “I also had staff members that would personally help me with my homework. Gradually, I did not feel insecure for not understanding. Thanks to Power Hour, I now appreciate the value of education.”
Kiara has also become a valued member of our staff. Ironically, one of her main functions is to now oversee our Power Hour program. “I’m glad to say I am now giving back to the Club members the way former staff gave back to me.”
We are so proud of Kiara, and look forward to watching her grow and reach for the goals she has set for herself. She is another example of how…
This year, our local Youth of the Year program was sponsored by Freedom Credit Union. In addition to providing gift cards for our Youths of the Month, they are providing Kiara with a laptop for school and clothing voucher for her to use for a new outfit for her competition and speaking engagements. We thank them for their continued support!