MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon has named Nellie A. Thornton High School sophomore Alyssa Diggs as its 2014-15 Youth of the Year.
Diggs has been a longtime member of the Boys and Girls Club, and as she has gotten older, she has become an important volunteer for the organization. While working with the Summer and After School programs, she accrued nearly 400 hours of community service.
The 15-year-old, who hopes to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology upon her graduation, said that joining the club helped her come out of her shell as she progresses through her teenage years.
“The club is a place I can meet new friends. When I first joined, I stayed to myself most of the time, [but] I’ve become extremely comfortable with my peers,” she said. “Having an outlet like that means more to me than the staff will ever know.”
Each year, the Boys and Girls Club designates its Youth of the Year, a club member between 14 and 18 years old that has enjoyed community, familial and academic success throughout the previous year. The winners then participate in the state competition for a $1,000 scholarship.
If Diggs were to win the state competition, she would compete in the regional, then national competitions for another $60,000 and the chance to meet President Barack Obama.
“[Alyssa] displays good conduct and moral character. She cooperates with others, counsels kids who need advising, and works well with junior and senior staff,” Teen Coordinator Halima Penny said. “I know she will do well in accomplishing her goals and I look forward to watching her meet them.”
According to Diggs’ mother Barbara, her daughter struggled initially with the transition from middle to high school, though her grades have since rebounded, and she’s become an important role model to her brother Trevon and sister Alana.
Diggs credits the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon for much of her maturation, going so far as to call its staff and members “family.”
“I have so many people to talk to here that are trustworthy,” she said. “That means the world to me. The club is an extension of my family, my home away from home.”