The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale have selected Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Alaza Loring of the Lehi Branch and Red Mountain Branch member Lane Yazzie to represent those branches as finalists for the Youth of the Year Award, presented each year by the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Along with the honorees from the other Greater Scottsdale branches, Loring and Yazzie will attend the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction 2014, on March 22 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. The fundraising event includes a live and silent action, a dinner featuring live entertainment, and more than 600 civic and community leaders from the Scottsdale area. The Youth of the Year Ceremony will be a highlight of the evening.
“The organization [Boys & Girls Club] rents the guys tuxes and gets the girls dresses; it’s like a big deal,” said Yazzie as he expressed his excitement for the Youth of the Year Ceremony.
According to the Boys & Girls Club website, more than 30 Club kids compete for the honor of being named Youth of the Year—the highest honor given to a member of the organization. The Youth of the Year is announced at the conclusion of the evening as the finalists will share their personal stories of triumph and transformation and how the Club has helped shape their lives and put them on a path toward great futures.
To be selected as a Youth of the Year finalist representing their branch, Loring and Yazzie had to participate in the Youth of the Year Program each Wednesday and complete a packet containing 12 letters of recommendation, six narratives and two essays.
Loring has been a member of the Lehi Branch for 11 years, and this is her first time being nominated for Youth of the Year. In her time at the Club Loring has been active in Club programs such as Leaders in Training, SMART Moves, TRAILs, SMART Girls and the Torch Club.
“There are a lot of things you learn when you’re a part of the Boys & Girls Club, such as doing programs like Amen Zone, which is a newer program geared toward physical fitness,” said Loring. “They used to have a similar program called TRAILs, which is a diabetes-prevention program. It really helped educate me on staying healthy and taking care of myself.”
This year Loring is a senior in high school. She is planning on going to Scottsdale Community College and then to Arizona State University. Her favorite activities with the Boys & Girls Club were participating in the lock-in’s and going to see the Nutcracker ballet every year.
Yazzie is from Mesa and attends Salt River High School. He has been a member of the Red Mountain Boys & Girls Club for the last four years. After finding himself with nothing to do after school, his friend Angelica Gonzales encouraged him to go to the Boys & Girls Club.
“I’ve known about the Club and always wanted to go, but my mother was hesitant to join due to financial issues and it would be a struggle to have to pay the fees,” said Yazzie. “But I eventually came with Angelica and I liked it; it was during a Teen Night, which is a social event for teens. I saw the Club members and how diverse and accepting they were. So I asked my mom again, and she said OK and signed me up. Since I started coming here, I have grown a lot, and I am thankful for my Club.”
Yazzie has been participating in the Youth of the Year program since his second year with the Club.
“I thought it was a cool program, so I participated,” said Yazzie. “I was happy and excited when they announced I would be one of Youth of the Year participants. I am excited to meet new friends and Club members.”
This is Yazzie’s third year participating in Youth of the Year for the Red Mountain Branch. He has participated in other Club programs such as Money Matters, the Keystone Club and Passport to Manhood.
“The best part of the Club would be the programs that they offer. People tell me now that I am more confident than I was a few years ago. I feel that is what the Club does, it helps you build up your social skills to be more confident, outgoing, and to become a leader. Like the Club’s motto says, ‘The Power of Potential,’ that’s what the Club did for me. It nurtured me and planted a seed in my mind of what leaders do and what’s out there.”
With his newfound confidence, Yazzie has started joining more activities at school, such as cheer and cross-country.
“I would give advice to younger Community members who aren’t participating in any programs to go out and do something. There is not only the Boys & Girls Club, there is also the VAII Clubhouse and the After-School Program. They keep you out of trouble, busy, and keep you from getting bored after school,” said Yazzie. “I would like to thank the Club for the support they have given me, my mother for supporting me in every step I [take], and the organization in general for the impact they have given not only to me, but other teens too.”
The Youth of the Year finalists will represent their branches for the next 12 months and receive a $1,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 Systems.
The Arizona State Youth of the Year winner receives a $5,000 scholarship from General Dynamics C4 Systems, a laptop from NPCE Technology Solutions and a Young Leadership Training scholarship from U & Improved.