On Thursday, May 9th, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco’s Citywide Youth of the Year from our Visitacion Valley Clubhouse, Sabrina M., was named the 2019 Pacific Region Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Selected from among a group of truly outstanding finalists representing all nine western states in the Pacific Region, Sabrina now advances to the National Youth of the Year Competition in Washington, DC in September. The event will feature teens from BGCA’s five regions of the United States, as well as the Military Youth of the Year representative. Of these six finalists, one will be named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year.
Sabrina and eight other terrific youth representing their home states gathered at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, for the Pacific Region Youth of the Year competition. During the judging early in the day on Thursday, each finalist delivered a speech touching on their Boys & Girls Club experience, personal character traits, academic ambitions and impact through community leadership. A panel interview with the event’s judges followed the speeches, allowing the judges to ask questions about the packet of information they received or about the content of the speech. At a celebratory dinner later that night, each of the finalists delivered their speech again. The event culminated with Sabrina graciously accepting the title of Pacific Region Youth of the Year.
“It's amazing to see how far Sabrina has come and what she’s accomplished. To compete for the title of National Youth of the Year is an inspiring achievement,” said Tavi Baker, BGCSF’s Citywide Director of Youth Leadership Programs. “So many people who met Sabrina during this experience recognized her determination and vision.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco President, Rob Connolly, also spoke highly of Sabrina. “We are all super proud of Sabrina. Reaching this level of the Youth of the Year Celebration & Competition is really, really hard. Sabrina has shown poise and determination since the very start of the program and that mirrors her effort in school and at the Clubhouse. Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco has been a major part of Sabrina’s life, with so many staff members having played a part in shaping the terrific young woman she is today.”
A twelve-year member of BGCSF, Sabrina represents the outstanding character and leadership BGCSF works to bring forth in all its Club members. Through her years spent at the Visitacion Valley Clubhouse and summers spent at Camp Mendocino, BGCSF staff motivated, inspired, and empowered Sabrina, helping her to recognize and believe in her potential to make a difference in the world.
In the fall, Sabrina will attend the Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, where she plans to study political science with the aspiration to eventually become a lawyer and a politician.
Sabrina’s good character is immediately apparent to those she’s closest to. Tanzy Robertson, Middle School Services Director at BGCSF’s Visitacion Valley Clubhouse, has known Sabrina since her earliest days with the Club. “I'm happy to see someone from Visitacion Valley get to this level,” Tanzy said. “It's really amazing to see her go from a shy kid to a National Youth of the Year finalist.”
Speaking with those who have watched Sabrina grow, they highlighted Sabrina’s good character and desire to succeed.
Wanda M. Holland Greene, Head of The Hamlin School where Sabrina attended middle school, noted Sabrina’s strong character as a youth. “When I met the eleven-year-old Sabrina, I was immediately drawn to her engaged and independent mind, her loyalty to her family and friends, and her enthusiasm for life. I have zero doubt that Sabrina will succeed at Barnard and in life, and her goal will be to lift others as she soars.”
Eric Temple, Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School, where Sabrina will graduate in June, shares a similar view. “I’m so impressed with so many different parts of who Sabrina is. I think if I were to boil it down, I would say that Sabrina brings an authentic self to her connections with others and challenges us to always think about the world in unique ways. Whatever Sabrina chooses to do, she’ll succeed. She’s a hard worker, and she has exceptional character.”
Reflecting on the achievement and the impact that the Club has had on her life, Sabrina mentioned the honor that comes with community leadership. “Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco is a reminder that good comes from the community. You must create and foster the positivity you want to see in the world,” Sabrina said. “I frequently get stopped by kids in the neighborhood who want to know me and speak with me. It makes my community proud. Now I look forward to representing the Pacific Region at the National event in September.”
To stay informed about Sabrina’s journey to the National Youth of the Year Celebration in Washington, DC, use the hashtags #yoy19 and #bgcsfyoy, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sign up for our newsletter. For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.kidsclub.org/yoy.