The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix serves nearly 30,000 Valley youths a year, so highlighting each of our outstanding success stories would be an impossible task. These young people truly embody the spirit of the BGCMP, and we are proud to call them our members.
Camrae joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix during the roughest time in her life. When she was a child, her father committed suicide after years of struggling with drug addiction. As a result, the young Camrae was eventually hospitalized for depression and starvation that occurred as she tried to cope with this trauma.
Searching for a place for her daughter to reclaim her love of life, Camrae’s mother found the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. After joining, Camrae sprang back to life — she joined teams, she led programs and she formed bonds that will last the rest of her life.
After restoring her zest for life, Camrae’s Club staff recognized the tremendous strides she was making and named her the Club’s Youth of the Year. She went on to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix Youth of the Year and eventually Youth of the Year for the entire state!
With her Youth of the Year scholarships in hand, Camrae is ready to begin her academic career as a Barrett’s Honors College Student at Arizona State University.
Johana had no idea what was in store when she joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix.”I just thought it was a place to volunteer and have fun,” she says. At that time, Johana’s family held firm to beliefs that it wasn’t necessary for women to receive a formal education, but Johana knew she wanted something different.
With the guidance of staff at the Robson Branch, Johana completed high school with a 4.3 GPA and earned a spot as an Honors Student at Grand Canyon University. In early 2013, she was named State Youth of the Year, receiving a college scholarship for all of her academic success and community involvement — in her final year of high school Johana racked up an incredible and inspiring 660 volunteer hours!
Today, Johana recognizes that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix taught her that no matter your background, gender or upbringing, anyone can become successful.
Fabian used to have trouble in school. Things got to the point that he was at risk of not advancing to high school on time, but his Be Great: Graduate mentor made sure that wasn’t going to happen.
Be Great: Graduate is a program that pairs 5th-8th grade Club members who are at risk of dropping out of high school with a mentor that they meet with once a week. Susana Pacheco, Program Manager and Be Great: Graduate specialist, has seen the effects of the program first-hand: “Once a trusting relationship has been established, the student starts to look forward to the visit, and is excited about having in-depth conversations with their guide.”
That trusting, encouraging relationship put Fabian on track to skip 8th grade! Thanks to his hard work in Be Great: Graduate, Fabian moved into high school on time with his peers. “He was ecstatic. He was so happy and couldn’t wait to tell everyone at the Club.” Fabian is an inspiration to all of his friends at the Club and all of his younger classmates.
The Swift Cheerleaders
In the fall of 2012, three persistent Swift Club members decided the Club needed a cheerleading squad. They made their case again and again, and finally, in January 2013, their wish was granted.
About 15 girls became dedicated members of the Swift cheer squad, practicing every day, learning to set goals for themselves as individuals and as a group.
In April, eight of the members performed at The Big Event – an annual fundraising event at the Arizona Historical Society. Reasonably, the girls had some nervous fears — their debut performance was about to be seen by hundreds of strangers! They took to the stage and gave it their all.
After the performance, Swift program manager, Russ Kazmierczak, said, “I couldn’t have been prouder! They were on stage and you’d have no idea it was their first performance! The confidence and sense of belonging that they’ve developed is incredible.
And it all started because they asked, ‘What if?’” The program was so successful that this year it will feature a new addition: 5-8 year old apprentice cheerleaders, learning from their older members.