The 10th annual Youth of the Year awards banquet held at the Mason Valley Boys & Girls Club facility began with a firsthand account of how meaningful and enriching the club experience had been for famed NFL Super Bowl player and inductee into the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame, Andre Reed.
“I grew up in an inter-racial home, in a small community in Allentown, Pa. and my home life offered a mother that had to work outside the home, which kept her away from us kids and I had a father that struggled as an alcoholic. But the Boys & Girls Club was a safe place for me to be led by quality people. Their programs gave me the tools to become all that I wanted accomplished. See this ring? [pointed to his Hall of Fame ring) This is the result of hard work and confidence, which I learned while participating at the Club. The Club gave me hope and took me out of my shell.”
Representing the Mason Valley Clubs within Yerington, Silver Springs, Dayton and the recent Hawthorne facility, Master of Ceremonies, Travis Crowder, introduced an evening of talents, honors and awards, bringing laughter and moments of tears to the 250 audience members.
Hawthorne’s Elk Lodge No. 1704, represented by Leading Knight, Ken Carrothers and Esquire, Kathryn DeVall were given the Appreciation Award as the largest donor in Mineral County for the year. The 2017 Volunteer Appreciation Award went to Randy and Sheri Samson for providing numerous donations and being actively involved within the Hawthorne facility. Sciarani & Co., whose firm represents many Mineral County entities, were awarded Champion of Youth Award for consistent accounting assistance since 2003 and their concert fundraising.
Hawthorne’s facility Director Lyndsey Burell, was commended publically for her commitment in creating and expanding the school-age programs offered; attending to her staff and maintaining the daily meals offered to children, while keeping a vision toward the future of establishing this new entity within Mineral County. Board member and board secretary Staci Emm, was also on hand to receive acknowledgement as being “someone that cycled out of the Boys and Girls Club”, within a 20-year span of involvement.
This year’s Hawthorne youth spotlight went to Richandra “Rica” Douglas, for her positive attitude at the club. Burall shared that she had brought a smile to the Club, completed her homework dutifully with staff and was a bright spot within the Hawthorne community.
As a former Boys and Girls Club kid, Nick Beeton, stated “The Club raised me since I was six years old and by the time I was 14, I was working the programs as an employee. They gave me my start in learning leadership skills that I still use today as a Nevada Wolf Pack employee.” Beeton graduated his four-year college without any debt, thanks to the scholarships and abilities that he gained by participating at the Club. “I was in Yerington when it was just a tent and a small office, but look at it now – breaking ground on a new youth center. That shows you the importance the Club is for any community.”
But the best of the evening came from two high school students that transparently shared from their hearts. Allyson Preston, Youth of the Year winner, gave a speech that explained her challenging childhood of having a drug addict mother and her own bout with depression at age 13.
“I would go to the Boys and Girls Club and be closed-off, but gradually I was taught how to be a kid again, with games and contests and a staff that involved me in the fun. I found friendships there and I could just be myself – because the Club provided me with a sanctuary of hope. I was never alone. The Club gave me a chance. I got to know myself and build my character.”
Shelby Rosebush shared, “When at the Fernley Club, I found out my Mom had cancer and my Dad had gone to prison. The Club helped me jump-start my life. They worked hard with me and taught me ethics and skills, while letting me help the staff. Then I transformed into staff. Because of the Keystone partnership and my hard work, I got to take a dream trip to the Chicago National Conference – what an opportunity for a kid like me.”
This organization, which began the Youth of the Year opportunity in 1947, proved that it embodies the leadership and academic excellence by assisting kids with their homework, while creating a healthy lifestyle of providing games, fun and a solid staff of mentors. By meeting the hurdles of race, educational struggles, varying home situations, socio-economic backgrounds and challenging environments, the Club garnered many testimonies stemming from the enriched involvement of the Mason Valley Boys and Girls Club structure.