Eight local teens compete to earn Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s highest honor

On February 23 at JW Marriott Desert Ridge, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) will name their Youth of the Year at the 2018 Celebrate Youth at Blue Door Ball. Eight of the organization’s nine Clubs have a candidate in the running.

The 2018 Youth of the Year finalists are— Winnie Chen, 18, from the Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch; Carli Drufey, 16, from the Virginia G. Piper Branch; Jhosevetd Gutierrez-Rodriguez, 17, from the Scottsdale Charros Branch; Nelson Martinez, 17, from the Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch; Jessica Meneses, 17, from the Red Mountain Branch; Madeline Nowaczyk,18, from the Vestar Branch; Marena Sever, 17, from the Thunderbirds Branch; and Adora Wesley-Howard, 16, from the Lehi Branch.

Youth of the Year is a national program run by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It honors leadership, exceptional academic performance and service in the community. This process began last September with more than 30 BGCS teens competing for the Clubs’ highest honor and scholarship awards provided by Voya Financial.

Candidates have been preparing for six months, writing multiple essays and participating in two rounds of one-on-one and panel interviews with local community leaders. They will each present their final speeches to more than 800 audience members at the gala. Their speeches highlight how being a Club kid has contributed to their personal growth and transformation.

Celebrate Youth at Blue Door Ball is Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s signature fundraising event, presented by Tiffany & Bosco, P.A., Great American Title Agency, Inc. and Meritage Homes. Held annually, the evening’s program ends with the announcement of the BGCS Youth of the Year. Proceeds generated from ticket sales, auction items and paddle-raiser purchases go directly to enhance Club programming.

“Every year, it seems that the competition is heightened,” said Dr. Lisa Hurst, BGCS President and CEO. “We are so proud of each candidate and humbled to play a role in their successes. Celebrate Youth at Blue Door Ball puts the epitome of our work on display. I am honored to be part of an organization that produces such talented, well-rounded and respectable young people,” said Dr. Hurst.

The 2018 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Youth of the Year will go on to compete at the state level in March with the potential to move onto regional and national competitions.

Meet the candidates.