Cavalier Washington’s Win Makes Three in a Row for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater
Selected among 18 outstanding youth, Cavalier Washington of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has been named the Wisconsin Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for her sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.
A true example of an extraordinary young leader, 18-year old Cavalier will now vie for BGCA’s Midwest Region Youth of the Year title and a $10,000 college scholarship.
Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive.
As BGCA’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles.
Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities.
Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
Earlier this year, the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club member was named the Northwestern Mutual Foundation Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
“Young people like Cavalier are able to flourish and thrive thanks to our caring staff who instill in them the attitudes, skills, values and behaviors to succeed in life,” says James Clark, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. “For the third year in a row we’ve had one of our Club members win the state title. Cavalier’s predecessors went on to become the Midwest Region Youth of the Year. Their successes are examples of how we inspire and empower youth to realize their full potential.
“As sponsors of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation Youth of the Year program, we’re dedicated to helping kids achieve their full potential through high-impact programs such as this. It reflects the talents, abilities and aspirations of future leaders like Cavalier Washington,” says Gary A. (Skip) Poliner, Northwestern Mutual president and chief risk officer and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee board member. “This state level recognition adds to the strong foundation she’s building for her future. We wish her continued success.”
A Mother’s Helper
Growing up, Cavalier watched her mother work two jobs to care for her and three siblings. Her father left the family when she was a little girl. His absence led to financial hardship. Cavalier recognized the pressure on her mom to take care of all of them. As the second oldest, she wanted to help her mom and be a positive example for her younger sister and brother. While their mother worked, Cavalier looked after her younger siblings, helped them with their homework, cooked meals, cleaned and got them ready for bed.
For a family seeking financial stability, things began to falter when the recession hit. Cavalier’s mother lost one of her jobs. There was not enough money to support the entire family and Cavalier had to move in with an aunt. Although they sleep under separate roofs, she helps out frequently after school, which allows her mother to continue her job hunt.
Second Family, Second Home
It was at the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club where Cavalier became part of a second family. “The Club is a place where I come to get away from all my problems going on at home and at school. This is a place where I can come to talk, not to feel embarrassed, but to be understood,” says Cavalier.
At Daniels-Mardak, its staff describes her as the epitome of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ mission: an inspirational and empowered young woman who is becoming a productive, responsible, caring adult. Cavalier helps her Club family by tutoring members during Power Hour – a designated time for homework, as a member of the teen-led Keystone Club dedicated to community service, and as part of the Clubs’ volleyball and soccer teams.
At her school, Holy Redeemer Academy, the senior helps younger students with their homework, is a varsity cheerleader and a member of its praise dance team.
While juggling the responsibilities of family, school and Club, Cavalier has maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout her high school career. Her future aspirations include attending Marquette University and one day becoming a Boys & Girls Clubs manager.
This summer, Cavalier will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members within the Midwest Region. If named regional winner, she will be awarded an additional $10,000 college scholarship.
Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2011, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.bgca.org/yoy.