Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley (BGCAZ) serves thousands of youth each year, so highlighting each of our outstanding success stories would be an impossible task. These young people truly embody the spirit of the BGCAZ, and we are proud to call them our members.
1. Listen to Stories
Tomas describes himself as a "bad club kid" that was even suspended from the Boys & Girls Club for a month. But they always welcomed him back. Today, Tomas is living the dream, but he'll never forget what others did for him when he needed help the most.
For young Lizzy, life was defined by change and instability. Be she found consistent support and new group of great friends at her Boys & Girls Club.
2. Mikayla L.
The Stewart Branch of the Boys & Girls Club has been a home for Mikayla since she was young, helping her to grow as a person and find immense success in her interests. Raised with a single mom, the Club initially provided Mikayla with after-school child care but quickly became much more than that. A shy youth, she grew into leadership roles including serving as President of the Torch Club, acted as the Vice President of the Keystone Club — serving and strengthening her community in the process. Mikayla says that her favorite part of being a member of the Club was walking through the doors and instantly feeling at home.
Her Boys & Girls Club also connected her to opportunities in line with her interests- like drama and photography. After being encouraged to enter one of her photos by a mentor at the Club, she won a National Photo Contest.
In addition, she has also received a prestigious $100,000 scholarship for college from Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD Foundation and Jay-Z's Shawn Carter Foundation, an accolade that was made possible with her outstanding work ethic and the mentorship of staff at the Club. Mikayla was surprised with the award while attending a Beyonce concert as part of a Club activity, and was congratulated by both Beyonce and Jay-Z after the show.
Mikayla is now studying behavioral science at Grand Canyon University and plans to eventually work at a private practice.
3. Leo C.
Loud, fun, joy. These three words are how 2017 Youth of the Year Leo Cano describes the Boys & Girls Club. Born in Mexico City and growing up in Arizona, the Club was a second home for Leo to thrive and become a leader within his community. He has excelled within a diverse range of interests while also serving his community: as a President of the L.I.T. program, a coach for youth soccer, and an artist.
Although initially struggling with balancing Spanish speaking at home and English at school, the Club helped Leo gain presentation and leadership skills that have allowed him to be a key advocate. While applying for the prestigious Youth of the Year award, Leo’s family came upon difficult times. The Club greatly supported Leo’s family during this time, making it possible for him to continue his application and eventually win the Youth of the Year award.
Leo returned as a staff member while attending college and was able to utilize his bilingual skills to help communicate with members of his community and the parents of many participants, an invaluable skill. Although he never saw himself as a leader when he was young, the Club helped him realize his potential as an amazing leader.
4. Cami H.
Boys & Girls Clubs are uniquely situated to prepare youth to achieve success in work and life. Clubs help develop soft skills like - perseverance, communication and problem solving - and hard skills - like digital literacy, business etiquette, STEM skills, and financial literacy - that are transferable across industries.
Beginning at a young age, Boys & Girls Clubs encourage youth to identify interests and skills and connect those to potential career paths. Career exploration grows into internship and employment readiness and work-based learning for teens.
After graduating at the top of her class, Cami is now studying nursing at the University of Arizona. She hopes to develop her passion for community service and helping others into a career in nursing.
4. Jessica S.
During Jessica’s childhood, the Boys & Girls Clubs helped her to excel in her interdisciplinary passions of dance and science, all while serving as a leader to her community. Jessica was inspired to join the Chandler Compadres Branch at age 11 and she went on to become President of Keystone and Torch Clubs, served the city of Chandler through active community service, and discovered her interests through a range of diverse and supportive mentors.
Jessica said that during one of the most difficult times of her life, when her family was struggling with personal and financial hardships, the Club was highly supportive and loving. She was forced to give up some of her favorite activities, but she remained a member of the Club. Jessica recalls that the Club enabled her to achieve her full potential through their constant support as well as the opportunities and training that they provided her.
Jessica returned to the Clubs as staff member, where she was instrumental in developing a successful dance program for the Club. She graduated from Arizona State University with a focus on dance and educational studies. She works as a studio manager and dance teacher for Dance 101 in Tempe and plans to get her master’s degree in secondary education in order to pursue her passion for teaching science.