Friday, February 28, 2014

Youth of the Year Banquet Offers a Glimpse of our Good Future

With the headlines each day screaming of juveniles in trouble, declining graduation rates (depending on which study you read) and general malaise about the next generation of leaders, it might be easy to get depressed and worry about the future of our nation. That is unless you took the opportunity to attend the recent Tulsa Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Banquet. It could be also called The Banquet of Hope.

At the banquet last week six youth who are members of the Salvation Army Tulsa Boys & Girls Clubs were honored for their exemplary accomplishments as members of their respective clubs. Four of the six competed for the Youth of the Year title. All are winners.

Established in 1947 nationally and in Tulsa in 1949, Youth of the Year is the Boys & Girls Club’s premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals, poise and public speaking ability.

Neariah Persinger
Sixteen-year-old Neariah Persinger of Broken Arrow was named 2014 Youth of the Year. The New Covenant High School senior is an honors student, holds six Oklahoma state swimming records and racked up an impressive 1,000-plus volunteer hours last year. She also created a 24-hour marathon swimming event that in two years raised over $1,200 for the Wounded Soldier Project. Her goal is to be an Olympic swimmer.

Miana McHenry
First runner-up was West Mabee nominee Miana McHenry, who has been a member since she was nine years old. At 17, Miana is a straight-A senior at Booker T. Washington High School, sings in the all-girl choir and is a member of the Student Council. She serves as the president of the West Mabee Keystone club and volunteers at all West Mabee sporting events and fundraisers. Her volunteer hours for the past year totaled 800.


Devin Duckett
Representing the “Mabee babies” was 17-year-old senior Devin Duckett, as second runner-up. Devin, a 12-year member of the Club, is a senior at Tulsa MET and volunteers at the Club with sports programs and Summer Day Camp. He also plays AAU basketball and wrestles for his school. He plans to attend Oral Roberts University or Oklahoma State University after graduation.

J'Day McIntosh
Third runner-up was Mabee Red Shield nominee J'Day McIntosh. Just 15, and a sophomore at Will Rogers High School, J’Day has been a member of the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club for eight years. She volunteers at football and basketball games and is a member of the Keystone Club. McIntosh plans on attending Oklahoma State University after graduation and wants to obtain a Master’s degree in Sports Therapy.

The honorees were awarded academic scholarships in the amounts of $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

Also honored at the banquet were 12-year-old Hannah Farias of Sand Springs and 13-year-old Brittany Wilson of Sapulpa. Though too young yet to compete in the Youth of the Year, Hannah attends Clyde Boyd Middle School and is involved in band, horseback riding and softball and Brittany attends Sapulpa Middle School and is a member of Torch Club, Keystone Club and involved in many of the Club’s sporting programs.

Consistent throughout the competition, these youth used the words “family,” “second home,” and “a safe place to be” to describe their Club. That doesn’t just happen. It comes about through dedicated staff and volunteers.

Past B&G Club Advisory Council Chairman Danny Roe was awarded the Clay Satcher Award, named for Retired Major Clay Satcher, founder of the Tulsa clubs. This award honors a member of the community who has shown commitment and support for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Maj. Satcher was the keynote speaker at the event and personally presented Roe his namesake award.
Major Clay Satcher, Danny Roe, David Litterell (Exec. Dir. Tulsa Boys & Girls Clubs)

Many of us attend countless events, banquets, anniversary dinners and other such celebrations that honor the lifetime or longtime achievements of professionals in our community.

What made this one different, and special, is we were tipping our hats to our future. And, if these youth are any indication at all, it’s a good one.

Thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tulsa.

-DJ






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