Caption for the above staff photo by Dawn Krebs: The three candidates for the 2013 St. Lucie County Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year stand with last year’s recipient. From left, 2012 Youth of the Year Maya Brown, the newly announced 2013 Youth of the year Saleshia Ellis, Joseph Noble and Isabella Atandi.
Student will represent county in regional competition
By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- Once a year, the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County holds an annual competition looking for the "best of the best," a young person who, through attending a Boys and Girls Club, was better able to handle the difficult times in his or her life.
This year, a roomful of people heard speeches from not one, but three nominees vying for the title, all from different clubs in the county.
At the end, Saleshia Ellis, a 17-year-old at Fort Pierce Central High School from the Infinity Teen Center, was announced the recipient of this year's title.
"This is totally a blessing and an opportunity for me," she said, all smiles. "I'm thankful to my family, God and the Boys and Girls Club for supporting me."
Saleshia has been named class president for the past two years at her high school and is active academically in the criminal justice academy.
Currently holding a 4.0 grade point average, she has found the time this year to earn 110 volunteer hours helping with nursing homes, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and mentoring to younger club members.
During her speech, she spoke of dealing with the death of a loved one at a young age, and how the people at the Boys and Girls Club became her role models.
She will move on to a regional competition of clubs in this area of Florida. In addition, she was also awarded a two-year scholarship to Indian River State College.
The other two candidates were Isabella Atandi, a 15-year-old Fort Pierce Westwood High School student who represented the Ken Pruitt Unit of the Boys and Girls Club and Joseph Noble, an 18-year-old Fort Pierce Westwood High School student who represented the Chuck Hill Unit.
All three students took part in an essay, had an interview with judges and delivered their speeches at a special reception on Jan. 23 at the Chuck Hill Unit in Port St. Lucie.
"Our committee did an outstanding job putting together these finalists," said Becky O'Brien, co-chairwoman of the event and a Boys and Girls Club board member. "In terms of leadership and community service, these students are truly the 'best of the best.'"
For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County or to volunteer with the organization, call (772) 460-9918.