UNION – A nine-year member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County in Plainfield, Imani Mutyanda, 18, of Westfield has been selected as the 2012 Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County Youth of the Year.
A true example of extraordinary youth, Mutyanda is among hundreds of local youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for their sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community. She will serve a one-year term as the local teen spokesperson for the some 7500 youth served annually by Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County through Club membership and community outreach. Mutyanda competed with several other outstanding Club members for the title including Natalia Rincon and Shalyn Brangman of the Union Club; Janae Morales of the Elizabeth Club; and Ashley Ampaabeng of the Plainfield Club.
Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. As BGCA’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
“Imani’s passion for selflessly helping her community is inspiring while her commitment to her education, and supporting her family and Club is exemplary,” said Russell Triolo, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County. “She is a very special young lady and thoroughly deserving of this honor.”
A senior at Westfield High School where she maintains a 3.8 GPA, Mutyanda has shown consistent effort in making education her priority and keeping her life on a positive track. She has decided to pursue nursing as a career because her passion is helping others and she plans on entering a program at one of the eight universities to which she has already been accepted. She is generous with her sincere smile, humble demeanor and considerate nature and is always willing to share her knowledge in a caring and courteous manner.
Mutyanda has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten, an active member of the Plainfield Cardinal Keystone Club for the last 5 years as well as of Delta G.E.M.S., which is a group of ambitious young women who are mentored throughout their high school and college years by members of the Delta Sorority of Sisters. Mutyanda loves the camaraderie she finds with her peers in these clubs but she also receives great satisfaction from being able to serve other people less fortunate than herself. She has been involved with many, many service events and activities including a Sick Cell Blood Drive, Hosting Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Hubbard Middle School and Breakfast with Santa at the Club.
The Boys & Girls Clubhouse in Plainfield, which Mutyanda refers to as her second home, has been a very important part of her life. She believes that she will become a registered nurse because of the support and guidance she received at the club and the programs she participated in such as Power Hour, Money Matters, Stand & Deliver and both Torch and Keystone Clubs in which she held leadership positions.
“I have had many wonderful mentors and staff members support me over the years,” Mutyanda says. “It is because of their tireless dedication and guidance, that I will be off to attend college this fall. In addition to the academic support, career awareness programs and financial literacy programs the Club offers paved the way for my current success and has put me on firm footing for a great future ahead.”
Mutyanda feels honored to have been selected Youth of the Year. “I appreciate the recognition and pledge to uphold the great values of the BGCUC and continue to support others to reach their full potential as well.”
The Union County Youth of the Year winner receives a $1,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation, the program’s national sponsor, as well as $2,000 from Hillman Consulting, in Union, which is also providing each nominee with $1,500 scholarships. They go on to compete against other local Boys & Girls Club winners in the state for the New Jersey Youth of the Year title in May. Each state candidate receives $1,500, the top 3 receive $5,000, and the State winner receives a $20,000 scholarship and goes on to compete for the title of Northeast Region Youth of the Year who wins a $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware. Five regional winners advance to Washington, D.C., in September to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National winner receives an additional $50,000 college scholarship from the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States.
To be considered for the title, Club members must write an essay and complete a face-to-face interview with a panel of judges, comprised of community leaders and members of the BGCUC Board of Directors. This year’s panel was headed by Timothy Williams, the Community Outreach Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region, for the local program’s premier sponsor, Elizabethtown Gas. They actively support local youth through their company wide V-Force employee volunteer program. Additional judges included: James Masterson, Executive Director, Union Township Chamber of Commerce; Kimberly Smith, Director, Government Affairs-Community Investment, Comcast; MaryRose Genovese, Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Investors Bank; Merritt Miller-Duffy Duffy, President, BB Miller & Company; Patricia Keefe, Esq Vice President General Council- Elizabethtown Gas. Sponsors included Amerigroup Community Care as well as Union Center National Bank, Roberta Miles, Geraldine Boone, Spencer Savings Bank, Crowe Horwath LLP, James A. Brown Agency, Ana Galindo Agency – Allstate NJ, Investors Bank, and Unity Bank.
Also honored at this year’s event were Club members in the categories of Buddie of the Year (ages 6-9), Junior of the Year (ages 10-13), Sportsman of the Year, People Respecting Others (P.R.O.) and SPIRIT Awards. They included:
ELIZABETH: Camille Jeannot – Buddie of the Year; Kevan Sims – Junior of the Year; Sportsman of the Year – Justin Phillips; Ja’Don Taylor – P.R.O. Award; Ja’nae Morales – SPIRIT Award
PLAINFIELD: Aniyah Cox – Buddie of the Year; Alero Buwa – Junior of the Year; Troy Dorsey – Sportsman of the Year; Steven Carmona – P.R.O. Award; Ichrak Faida – SPIRIT Award
ROSELLE: Harrison Elementary School: Amel Ouji – SPIRIT Award; Dr. Charles C. Polk Elementary School – Jilani Skinner – P.R.O. Award; Washington Elementary School – Asia Lyons – Buddie of the Year;
Leonard V. Moore Middle School – Kyani Ashley-Robinson – Sportsman of the Year; Grace Wilday Middle School – Zinnaya Mercado – Junior of the Year
HILLSIDE: AP Morris – Chinelo Chigozie-Nwosu – Buddie of the Year; AP Morris 2nd Grade Annex – Adrianna Benn – P.R.O. Award; Calvin Coolidge – Junior of the Year – Malcolm Wiggins-Hawkins; George Washington – Sportsman of the Year – Adrian Nole-Mazur; Hurden Looker – SPIRIT Award – Kenechukwu Adibe
UNION: Giovanna Vilela – Buddie of the Year; Mekhi Bryant – Junior of the Year; Natalia Rincon – Sportsperson of the Year; Nila Addo – P.R.O. Award; Hannah Bradbury – SPIRIT Award
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