By Alisha McDarris
MARTIN COUNTY -- The Boys and Girls Club of Martin County will be recognizing five exceptional youth next month during their annual Youth of the Year celebration.
Every year, each of the five Martin County clubs nominate one stellar student to be recognized as an all-star teen club member who is not only active in their club, but are giving back to their club and the community.
It's part of BGCMC's mission to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens, and according to David Vaina, communications director for BGCMC, recognition is one of the elements of that youth development.
"We want to recognize and reward the youth that go above and beyond in the organization," Mr. Vaina said.
Each nominee has been active in their home club with over 100 hours of service and showed strength of character in their own right. But they will also participate in additional activities that will further develop their character and mold them into productive, caring, responsible citizens.
"They're very well-rounded kids," said Mr. Vaina. "There's a certain elite quality to them."
He admitted that the judges will have a tough time selecting this year's winner from the three girls and two boys competing for the title.
But a title isn't the only thing for which they're contending. The winner will continue on to compete against Youth of the Year from other counties in the state competition, then regionals, then nationals where the overall winner will receive a $50,000 scholarship and get to meet the president at the White House.
The Youth of the Year will also become a spokesperson for BGCMC, representing the club at various community events throughout the year.
Bria Anderson, 17, the reigning Youth of the Year; Lovely Davilmar, 18; and Bridget Duignan, 15, have all competed in the past, but Mr. Vaina is glad to see a few boys, Felix Macedonoio, 15 and Angel Plata, 15 participating this year.
The nominees range from eighth graders to seniors and all have different stories, but all are connected by triumph over adversity.
"They're still kids but they've done so much and yet they've stayed disciplined. It's just really inspiring," Mr. Vaina said.
Community members, family and friends are invited to join in on the Youth of the Year celebration on Feb. 11 when the victor will be named. There will be a free dinner and each of the nominees will share their extraordinary story and ambitions with everyone in attendance and the panel of judges.
"It's a way to showcase the impact that the organization has," Mr. Vaina said. "It's a way to celebrate young people."
People wanting to attend the Feb. 11 event at Indian River State College's Stuart campus can RSVP at www.bgcmartin.org.