After hearing the thrilling news of the most recent National Boys & Girls Club of America’s (BGCA) selection of the Youth of the Year, Carlos P., I became reminiscent of my own time at “the club.” Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a national organization dedicated to the academic and personal advancement of youth across the country through leadership and service. From the time I was in kindergarten, all the way up until my senior year of high school, I was a “club kid.” I attended East DeKalb Boys and Girls Club in Lithonia, Georgia, which was part of the Metro Atlanta region. It’s safe to say that there really is no way to describe my greatest memories without talking about “the club.” And of course, I can’t forget the amazing opportunities and the valuable lessons that I learned. Here are three things that Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta (BGCMA) taught me.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
1. Not only is it imperative to serve your community, but it is also just as important to have a community behind you.
One of the pillars of Boys & Girls Clubs is service to your community. This is definitely a trait that I still stand by today. However, I’ve recently come to realize the importance of having a group of people around you. Even in your daily pursuits of contributing to a better community, it’s actually better to have a group of people to stand with throughout the process. You can initiate the process, but you can usually only go so far by yourself. Having a community that supported my goals and ambitions at the club helped me accomplish things such as maintaining a great GPA in high school and even getting into college.
2. When an opportunity is presented to you and you have the passion to do it, take it.
Little did I know writing for the BGCMA College Bound newsletter would fuel my passion for writing. If I would have never taken the chance when my College Bound advisor shared the opportunity with me, I would have never further pursued my interest in journalism by joining my high school newspaper and yearbook teams or even re-launching a Her Campus chapter at Agnes Scott. As a community, the club always reminded me to follow my passion. I would have never known what could be accomplished if I decided not to follow that opportunity.
(Image from Pexels)
3. Be true to yourself, respect yourself, and allow yourself to grow.
In the official Boys and Girls Club creed, there is a line that states, “I believe in fair play, honesty, and sportsmanship.” I think the honesty aspect has been shown more recently in my life. I made a decision this past weekend that not only looked bad on my part and did not represent me as a person well, but it also disappointed someone in my life who I truly admired and respected. I, of course, apologized for my wrongdoing to this person. “The club” taught me that the value in self-respect is not only how you see yourself, but also how you want others to see you. The decision that I made was not a true reflection of who I am. And instead of hiding from my fault, I sought to let the person who was affected know that I knew what I had done was wrong and reestablish our relationship.
There are some great people who are the products of life lessons from Boys & Girls Clubs of America: Jennifer Lopez, Shaquille O’Neal, Denzel Washington, Kerry Washington, Fred Rooney, and much more. I hope other club kids like me will be able to realize the importance of the club in their lives so that we can grow up to be as amazing as all the BGCA alumni across the country.
(Image from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington)