UNION – Justin Phillips, 17, a future Civil Engineer hopeful, has been selected as the 2013 Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County Youth of the Year.
“As the 2013 Youth of the Year, I encourage all youth in Union County to reach out to a Boys & Girls Club,” Phillips said. “They offer great programs and a very safe and nurturing environment. One of my favorite aspects of the Club is the diversity of members, and everyone is able to express themselves and grow.”
An Elizabeth resident, Phillips, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County’s Elizabeth Club, is among hundreds of local youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for sound character and leadership skills and desire to give back to the community. The 2013 Union County nominees also included Natalia Rincon of the Union Club and Raven Atkins of the Plainfield Club.
A senior at Saint Mary’s of the Assumption High School in Elizabeth, Phillips has grown up in a single parent household and has grown into a mature young man. He values and believes deeply in community service, respect to self and others, dedication and hard work, whether at home, in school or at the Elizabeth Club.
Over the years, “I have had such great relationships with my Boys & Girls Club family,” Phillips said. “Because of their dedication, their guidance and support, I will be off to attend college this Fall. The academic support, career awareness programs and financial literacy programs run by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County paved the way for my current success and have put me on firm footing for a great future ahead.”
Phillips is always looking for opportunities to engage the younger members at the Boys & Girls Club so they know they can count on him. He is very well respected by his peers and is a strong and positive influence on them. When there are not enough volunteers for a task, Justin always takes on more responsibilities. This positive attitude greatly impacts those around him as they seem to gravitate toward him and look to him for guidance.
As a member of the Elizabeth Club for over five years, Phillips has been a positive inspiration and influence on the young members. He has participated in the Money Matters, Keystone, Career Launch and Goals for Graduation programs and as an active participant in the Money Matters, Stand & Deliver and the Job Ready programs, Phillips helps his peers understand the importance of participating in all the club has to offer in order to prepare for success in the future.
Phillips is looking to pursue a career as a civil engineer and has his sights set upon the University of Florida.
“After sitting down and speaking with Justin, I realize what a unique and responsible young man he is. His ability to see the big picture and his understanding that our Club has provided him with a solid foundation, and his unique grasp on knowing that all of his experiences, and some very difficult, are all stepping stones to his future, speak to what an unusual person Justin is.”, said Russell Triolo, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County. “He is a valued member and a wonderful choice to be our 2013 Youth of the Year.”
This year’s event was at the Galloping Hill Caterers in Union and was attended by almost 200 guests including dignitaries State Senator Raymond Lesniak, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley, and Union County Sheriff Ralph Froehlich.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County Board President Marcy Metz stated “I am honored that these gentlemen took the time to attend our event and to speak so highly of the efforts that our Club puts forth to ensure that our children always have a place to go, to grow, and to excel. This event is an annual highlight for all of us fortunate enough to be a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs family.”
The Union County Youth of the Year winner receives a $1000 scholarship to pursue their post-secondary education and will compete against other local Boys & Girls Club winners in the State for the New Jersey Youth of the Year title on June 4 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
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. Five regional winners travel 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 $15,000 college scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States in an Oval Office ceremony.
For the second straight year, Hillman Consulting located in Union, provided education scholarships to all of the Youth of the Year nominees with the winner receiving $4,000 and both runners up receiving $2,000.
The Youth of the Year program, which is administered by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and has been nationally sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation since 1947, recognizes outstanding effort and contributions by a club member to their family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as having overcome personal challenges and obstacles.
“The Reader’s Digest Foundation has been the proud sponsor of the Youth of the Year program for well over 60 years,” said Susan Fraysse Russ, executive director, Reader’s Digest Foundation. “We are thrilled that we can honor amazing teens like Justin for their dedication and hard work.”
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 several members of the BGCUC Board of Directors. This year’s panel is headed by Timothy Williams, who is the Community Outreach Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region, for the event’s premier sponsor, Elizabethtown Gas. They actively support local youth through their companywide V-Force employee volunteer program. Additional judges include: Douglas W. Schoenberger-VP Public Policy, Verizon, Maureen Tinen-President, UCEDC, John Crisafulli-
Assistant VP, Northfield Bank, Brian McLain-VP Operations, Elizabethtown Gas, Jamel Holley-Mayor, Roselle NJ, Colleen Mahr-Mayor, Fanwood, NJ, Sharon Robinson-Briggs-Mayor, Plainfield, NJ
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, and SPIRIT Awards. They included:
ELIZABETH: Ciara Robertson – Buddie of the Year; Jahyeer Pendleton – Junior of the Year; PLAINFIELD: Janell Moore – Buddie of the Year; Rashid Odoms – Junior of the Year; Aiyana Williams- SPIRIT Award
ROSELLE: Harrison Elementary School: Jayden Nelson – Buddie of the Year; Dr. Charles C. Polk Elementary School – Donovan Long-Buddie of the Year –Washington Elementary School – Andres DiMatteo- Buddie of the Year; Leonard V. Moore Middle School – Dashaun Issac-Junior of the Year- Success Academy- – Jakeim Keymell-Walker – Buddie of the Year
HILLSIDE: AP Morris – Jasmine Lareya – Buddie of the Year; Calvin Coolidge – Julia Ramos- Buddie of the Year –George Washington – Chidinma Chigozie-Nwosu-Spirit Award Hurden Looker – Anita Ojibe-Buddie of the Year; WOK Middle School-Ajanee Wineglass-Junior of the Year
UNION: Kaylona Smith – Buddie of the Year; Jalynn White – Junior of the Year; Marlon Roberts – SPIRIT Award
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, which operates facilities in Union, Roselle, Plainfield, Elizabeth and Hillside, serve over 7600 children a year. They seek to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential, and have provided opportunity for youth since 1955. They are part of a national network of some 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which serves more than 4.6 million young people annually, in all 50 states and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Known as “The Positive Place for Kids,” the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach. To find out more, please visit http://www.bgcuc.org
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