BGCBI Is Truly Where Great Futures Start

“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.”

Author: Orison Swett Marden

I believe this is the message Mayor Billy Kenoi was conveying as he spoke at the annual Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s (BGCBI) Youth of the Year banquet and awards on March 11th.  No truer words can be said about this year’s finalists: Hilo High School senior, Nicholas Miguel and Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences freshman, Jordyn Alexandra Brooks-Mathew.

Mayor Billy Kenoi with YOY finalists Alex and Nick.

Youth of the Year (YOY) is BGCBI’s premier recognition program and is considered a mainstay of the Boys & Girls Club experience.  It gives young people a voice and a pathway to showcase their personal growth and development as club members.

The Table 12 gang which included Representative Clift Tsuji and Jr. YOY participant, Isaiah Villanueva

Through essays, public speaking, personal interviews, and upon recommendations of youth development specialists (clubhouse staff), candidates in the YOY program demonstrate how through hard work, persistence, and determination they have turned their aspirations into actions and, in many cases, how they have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve success.

Board Chair, Donn Mende, with outgoing CEO, Zavi Brees-Saunders.

The program focuses on club members 14 years of age and older who have been members of the clubhouses for at least two years.  Working in partnership with clubhouse professionals, as well as through the generous support of the Hilo Toastmasters Club, all candidates worked diligently on improving their presentation, speech and communication skills.

Nick with his mom, Desiree. Congratulations Nick!

This year’s YOY first runner up is Nick Miguel, a senior at Hilo High School, who has been a Hilo Clubhouse member for 12 years.  He has participated in numerous volunteer service projects, and has served as Junior Staff and Treasurer of the Keystone Club, the organization’s young leadership group.  Nick has also been active in Revolutionary Youth Market (RYM), a youth-led market offering fresh grown clubhouse produce to the community . RYM’s slogan, which Nick helped create is “Take what you need, Give what you can”.

Congratulations Alex!

BGCBI’s 2016 YOY is Alex Brooks-Mathew.  Alex has been a member of the Pahoa Clubhouse for two years, and is consistently in the top ten for attendance.  She is often one of the last members to leave for the day, and assists clubhouse staff with a myriad of duties.  An active member of her church and participant in a variety of school based activities, Alex has proven herself to be an outstanding member of the Pahoa community.  She has started a movement to collect clothing for those in need, assists her church in feeding the homeless, and is a caring sister to her younger siblings.

Alex will represent BGCBI at the state level on March 30th, where she will compete against YOY awardees from Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Hawaii-based military. The winner at the state level will advance to the regional and then national level, where up for grabs is a $50,000 college scholarship and breakfast with the President of the United States!  Congratulations Alex, we know you’ll make Hawaii Island proud!

Representatives of the Puna and Waiakea Lions Club

Other individuals/organization recognized at the YOY function were:

  • Dolly Kailiawa, Pahoa Club Director – for 10 years of continuous service.
  • The Puna and Waiakea Lions Club – “Championing of Youth” award, for their ongoing support of both the Hilo and Pahoa Clubhouses.
  • The Trustees of the Hilo Boarding School – for unwavering foundation support of the BGCBI movement.


Last but not least, Newton Chu, Honoree of the Year award, for his relentless support and efforts both leading and supporting BGCBI.


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