Boys & Girls Club Blog

Final Remarks from our 2018 Youth of the Year

Being Youth of the Year and representing my Boys & Girls Club was very eye-opening. I learned a lot about myself and also about issues teens, not just in our Club, but also in other Clubs, are facing and are passionate about. It’s also given me an outlet to share my story in hopes that teens who are in my position and heard me feel helped in some way. Throughout the year, I have made amazing friends and gained so much confidence I never knew I had. This opportunity was truly one that has had a great positive impact on me.

During my time as Youth of the Year, I had many opportunities to showcase my talents and share my story with the community, starting with the Youth of the Year State Competition in Green Bay. This competition allowed me to meet other Youths of the Year from around the state, which was amazing. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. I also got to talk about myself and my journey to getting where I am today, which helped me gain the confidence to not be ashamed of my past, and know that sharing my story could help others.

Later in the year, I also had the opportunity to speak and showcase my singing abilities at the Youth of the Year dinner and WineFeast 2018 that both took place at the Oshkosh Convention Center. These were both amazing experiences as I got a visual representation of how much support we have from our community at WineFeast and how many kids we serve at our Boys & Girls Club at the Youth of the Year Dinner.

Both events, when up at the podium speaking, I had an amazing time, mostly because I knew those people were there because they support myself and every other person we have attending the Boys & Girls Club, but also because I could be my complete and utter self. But, this would not have been possible had I not had the support of my amazing speech coach, Brenda Haines. She spent hours with me helping me perfect my speech and really bringing it to life and I will forever be grateful for her.

Later in the year, the door opened for several opportunities to do some fun activities with the younger girl members and with also with Tracy Ogden. My favorite activity I got to take part in was Afternoon Tea. This program helps young girls understand the importance of lifting each other up and supporting one another, and also how to be classy with proper manners etiquette. I felt extremely honored to have been able to participate in this event and also get the opportunity to share my story with the girls and the women in attendance knowing that they were all here for the same reason, because they supported me 100%.

Tracy and I, all thanks to Ron Johnson, also had an amazing opportunity I thought I never in years would be able to do—take a trip to Washington D.C. to visit and tour and also spend time exploring the career field I am pursuing. I met United States Capitol Chief of Police Matthew Verderosa and other officers of the United States Capitol Police. They were extremely welcoming and really helped open my eyes to the many opportunities I have at the tips of my fingers. They even showed me around their department despite the renovations that were happening, and I am extremely grateful for that.

While visiting, Tracy and I also had the opportunity to see the United States Capitol Building and the Library of Congress, from the rotundas to the statues and lovely paintings, it was all simply captivating. The White House was one of the things I was most excited for, as I never in a million years thought I would’ve been able to tour it, it was wonderful.

Although the art and architecture in these historical buildings was breathtaking, the city itself was also rich with history. One of the places we toured that really caught my interest was the African American History Museum. The amount of knowledge and insight I gained was unbelievable. The way our culture and stories of the past was captured, was truly astounding. If I had the chance to go back, I definitely would.

All things considered, my year as Youth of the Year has been an incredible experience. I got to take on opportunities I never thought would be possible for me and also serve as a good role model to the younger boys and girls at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh. My favorite part of the experience was the friendships and relationships I have gotten to make along the way with other Youths of the Year and community members, but mostly importantly, with our very own Club kids. If I had the chance to do this all over again, I would wholeheartedly love to.

Post Written By: 2018 Youth of the Year Nichole Van Hoof