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Tuesday April 13, 2010 Edition
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Local Teen Selected As Vermont Boys & Girls Club Member Of The Year

2010 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Kelsey Howard
photo provided
2010 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Kelsey Howard

Tuesday April 13, 2010

By Cookie Steponaitis

    When Kelsey Howard first walked through the doors of the Greater Vergennes Boys & Girls Club five years ago, the words that best described her were, in Kelsey’s own opinion, “shy, insecure and quiet.” She skirted the perimeter of the club and for a long while simply watched the other activities, interacting with the other teens only on a rare occasion. With time she grew a little bolder and became a part of the programs, thus beginning the transformation to the outspoken, active and positive teen of today. It is safe to say that Kelsey not only grew up at Boys & Girls Club, she blossomed.

        Known at VUHS as a “go to” student when you want something accomplished, Kelsey was recently notified that she not only had won the award of Local Youth of the Year, but she was also the Vermont Boys & Girls Club Member of the Year.  Kelsey presented a speech outlining her growth and transformation as a member of the local club to a room full of her peers and club members. While Kelsey is quick to credit the Keystone Club as the one program at the Boys & Girls Club that had the most to do with her new found confidence and leadership training, she also remarked about programs like the Cooking for Life program for both younger kids and teens in which they learn cooking skills and nutrition, the Fitness activities, including cheerleading, a soccer program, and Rosie’s Girls, a three-week summer camp for middle school girls to learn carpentry skills. “The Boys & Girls Club is a place for everyone,” shared Kelsey. “You learn not only to get along, but to value and appreciate what each person brings to experiences. You learn to think, work, and present ideas to others and cement what you yourself believe.”

    Earning a $ 1000.00 prize for her recognition is not even the end of this process for Kelsey. In July she will travel to New York City and be part of the New England level competition, meeting the other state winners from around New England. With a smile that lights up her face, Kelsey shared her future plans that include college and a career as a teacher. “I am not sure whether it will be high school or younger children,” she commented. “I do know it will involve children with special needs. I really feel that they need people to advocate for them and show them their potential.”

    Melding the hands on connections of local clubs and the potential of a national organization, the Boys & Girls Club is not only a “safe place for kids to grow”, but a structured set of opportunities for learning life long skills of leadership, community and individual potential. Originally began in the 1860’s in Hartford, Connecticut by a group of women who sought alternative activities for the children who were on the streets, the group quickly grew and 53 clubs formed an organization in 1906, beginning the roots of the national movement. The Vergennes Club has grown not only in size and membership from its grass root beginnings over a decade ago and has two sites locally. A teen center and a youth center are open daily to students needing a safe place to grow and explore in the hours after school. Anyone interested in the programs of the club should contact executive director Mike Reiderer at 877-6344 or just ask Kelsey Howard.

    Whether Kelsey is leading by example at the Boys & Girls Club, speaking to a large group of middle school students about healthy choices, or serving the community through one of her countless different projects, the message is the same. Kelsey Howard is a determined and secure teenager who has a year of high school to go and plans for the future that includes school, community and time at her favorite spot, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes.

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