Meet Margaret, the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club
2017 Youth of the Year
By: Darril Almonte, April 21, 2017
The Youth of the Year Process:
Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club has improved the lives of countless children over the years. Through fun and exciting developmental programming, our members acquire the fundamental and essential skills necessary for adulthood. Through these programs, we always encounter a smaller portion of young members who instantly evolve before our very eyes. Their demeanor, rational and desire to succeed sparks quickly and remarkably at an inconceivable age. Regardless of any difficult times at home or at school, they look for ways to remain positive and hop over the destructive cracks on the sidewalks of life. With precise support and encouragement from our staff, these members can quickly tap into their potential to becoming impactful figures in society while still in their adolescence. Not because their lives are perfect, but because they make the perfect adjustments to the imperfections they face. These are the roots of the development of a Youth of the Year (YoY).
Youth of the Year (YoY) is a National Boys & Girls Club competition held to foster a new generation of leaders while assisting them in their journeys of success. The national winner has the opportunity to influence youth across the country, as well as, many once in a lifetime privileges. The Youth of the Year (YoY) training process mainly consists of essay writing, interview, and public speaking skills. The candidates are chosen based on values in academic excellence, healthy lifestyles, and leadership/service. Within each of these sessions, the key priorities are mentoring, coaching, and mentally preparing our members.
This year we’ve had the pleasure of working with five exceptional participants who were all more than qualified to represent Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club in the state competitions. The candidates were Alexis W. and Erika E. representing Castle Hill, Margaret and Jhordanny H. representing the Fredric R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse, and Malik L. representing the Lucile Palmaro Clubhouse. Our objective was now to prepare our selected teen members to potentially represent Boys & Girls Clubs of America in this year’s National Youth of the Year (YoY).
After eight weeks of intensive training and meetings, we’ve learned that all of our determined teens were of high character, class, and charisma. They were all deserving of reward and recognition for overcoming the obstacles they’ve already faced in their young lives. However, there could only be one local Youth of the Year (YoY) winner.
Our Judges were Samantha Valerio, Scott Gress, Chip Brian, Latifa Beato, Sidney Witter and Ed Beltran. All judges were very enthusiastic about getting to know the Kips Bay candidates.
After presenting themselves and answering questions based on their life aspirations, Clubhouse experiences, and Youth of the Year (YoY) goals, the two finalists were Margaret and Jhordanny. Although Alexis,, and Malik, displayed great promise and potential, Margaret and Jhordanny were the two senior members whom the judges agreed were most capable. Both of these candidates were exceedingly experienced since they are both former Youth of the Year winners. Jhordanny was the 2016 Local Youth of the Year (YoY) winner, and Margaret was the 2015 State Youth of the Year (YoY) winner.
Judges were emotionally torn as they knew there was a very difficult decision to be made between these two frontrunners. After long and thoughtful consideration our judges agreed that Margaret Rodriguez would be the 2017 Youth of the Year (YoY) winner! Throughout this challenging competition, judges did a great job not only judging the contest but also in commending our teens for making it this far. Make sure to be on the lookout for Erika, Malik and Alexis as they will be undoubtedly up-and-coming Youth of the Year contenders with the experience they’ve gained!
Thanks to the efforts of John Bennett, Tanya Spence, Anthony Pope, Jacqueline Bourdett and Mike Allen, for making the 2017 local Youth of the Year (YoY) process a success. After being crowned 2017 Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Margaret was then celebrated by all candidates, all judges, and Executive Director, Daniel Quintero.
Margaret is a seventeen-year-old latina from the West Bronx. Her story is centered on the social underestimations and personal adversities she’s faced since childhood. Living in a community with nationally high levels of violent crime, drugs and poverty rates, you can encounter negativities on any given day. Because of this, by the age of 10, Margaret was already making drastic life-changing decisions. Being consistently bullied at school for being involved in primarily male sports, dressing tomboyish, and not having many friends, led her to feel lonely and depressed. Growing up fatherless with a hardworking mother of three, Margaret wasn’t receiving the necessary attention at home that she desired.
Margaret then joined the Fredric R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse in 2010 and grew a sense of belonging largely through the programs of Smart Girls and Street Hockey teams. Smart Girls programming teaches all young ladies what it means to be a female in our society while also building a sisterhood promoting high self-esteem and mental wellness. Margaret says because of Smart Girls, she deterred from drinking alcohol, smoking, and gang association. This gave Margaret identity and awareness in a point of her life when she needed it most.
During her years on the Coudert Cobras Street Hockey Team, Margaret gained a lot of confidence being a female on a predominantly male team. She naturally began to lead huddles and had an instinctive knack for motivational speeches, as she later became the captain of the team. Although the team was winning many of their games, this was also a way for Margaret to relieve stress in a positive way and keep active. The Coudert Cobra’s won the 2015 Kips Bay Street Hockey Championship and Margaret was named the Most Valuable Player.
Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club has been Margaret’s safe haven. She believes that Kips Bay is the only reason she ceased becoming a product of her neighborhood. Margaret vouches that all youth should have a local Boys & Girls Club they could attend for escape, enjoyment, and safety. After noticing her growth, Margaret has since decided to give back to the community. She is now a committed staff member at the Coudert Clubhouse and plans to continue working there throughout her college years. In her pursuit of becoming the National Youth of the Year (YoY), Margaret is on a mission to help save young lives after her life was saved in 2010, the year she first walked through the blue Kips Bay doors.
Margaret stands as a symbol of hope for all women who are judged, all victims of bullying that feel unappreciated, all minorities who seek equal opportunity, and all disenfranchised youth who just want their voices to be heard. She is the epitome of everything that the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club stands for.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America: @bgca_clubs
Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club: @kipsbaybgc
Check out some highlights of Margaret's #GreatFutures journey!