On Wednesday, April 10, BGCSF’s Citywide Youth of the Year, Sabrina McFarland, was named the 2019 California State Youth of the Year at a celebration at the State Capitol.
The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person who has overcome personal challenges and distinguished him/herself with academic accomplishments, leadership skills, perseverance, moral character, and service to their Boys & Girls Club and community.
Sabrina and eight other accomplished youth from Clubs across California gathered in Sacramento for two and a half days for the competition, with each finalist delivering their speech and being interviewed by a panel of judges. Sabrina now advances to the Pacific Region competition, to be held in Beverly Hills in May. The competition will feature teens from nine western states, one of whom will go on to compete in the National Youth of the Year competition, which will be held in Washington, DC in September 2019.
BGCSF President, Rob Connolly, was proud to honor Sabrina’s achievement. “Sabrina is an amazing young woman with an incredibly bright future. She is such a terrific ambassador for BGCSF, having participated in almost everything we've offered over the past twelve years! She literally grew up with us. I remember her as an elementary school member, a middle schooler, and now as a leader, mentor, and ambassador in her high school years. She is not only a Vis Valley Clubhouse member but an active Camp Mendocino member too. I'm so impressed and proud of Sabrina!”
Sabrina, a twelve-year member of BGCSF and senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School, represents the outstanding character and leadership BGCSF knows our members can achieve. In the fall, Sabrina will attend Barnard College of Columbia University as she works toward her dream of becoming a lawyer, with a focus on social justice reform in our country.
Reflecting on the accomplishment, Sabrina expressed gratitude for the opportunity to represent her community under such meaningful circumstances. “In some ways, it’s numbing, because as a kid growing up I never could have imagined this would happen. To be such a big role model to kids across the state is a huge honor. I want to succeed and ensure that I inspire more youth to see themselves in my shoes,” Sabrina said. “They are who I do this for."
Sabrina says she is also proud to be a voice for her community. “Being California State Youth of the Year has reminded me daily how much kids in my community look up to me. I frequently get stopped in the neighborhood by kids who want to know me and speak with me. It makes my community proud. A lot of people are recognizing what I’ve done and what I’ve been through,” Sabrina said. “I used to hide my story and hide where I come from, and I don’t want to do that anymore.”
Asked to comment on Sabrina’s achievement, BGCSF’s Citywide Director of Youth Leadership Programs, Tavi Baker, said, “Sabrina is incredibly inspiring and passionate about fighting inequities in her community and nationally. I'm excited that she will have this platform as a young leader of color to speak truth to power.”
For more information about the National Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org. To stay up-to-date on Sabrina’s journey, be sure to follow BGCSF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
BGCSF is currently offering free support and training to Black-serving and Black-led individuals and organizations participating in The Dream Keeper Initiative, a citywide effort launched in 2021 to reinvest $120 million over two years into San Francisco’s diverse Black communities.
April is Arab American Heritage Month and I am excited to both reflect on what this month means to me personally and share how BGCSF and Camp Mendocino engage Arab youth and their families.
We are pleased to highlight a member of our Senior Leadership Team, Erin Gutierrez. Erin has served the BGCSF community for 15 years. Her experience spans multiple roles across the organization and provides a powerful and unique perspective on the holistic impact of BGCSF.