Boys & Girls Club Of Kenosha


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Youth of the Year

2024 Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Youth of the Year: Talib Y.

The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha would like to proudly introduce and congratulate our 2024 Youth of the Year, Talib Y.

2024 Yoy
2024 Yoy

What is Youth of the Year?

Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Youth of the Year, serving as an ambassador for the Club youth as well as a voice for all of our communities young people. Over the decades, these individuals have exemplified the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha’s mission and are proof to the impact the Club makes in transforming and saving youths’ lives.

The Club’s Impact on Talib

Below is an excerpt from Talib’s Youth of the Year Essay on his experience at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and what the Club means to him.

My family and I lived in Chicago in 2015. It was 4th grade. I was unaware we were on rental assistance, but my parents did everything possible to offer me a good life. In 2015, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. I saw my father cry for the first time, but I did not realize how sick she was. My dad quit his job to care for her. We lost some extra money. The government provided shelter but little else. I tried to support my family as much as possible when I was young. I learned to exist without extras and without asking. I appreciated what I had and prayed for my mom’s improvement daily. We celebrated her cancer-free diagnosis in 2018. Shortly after, my family moved from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisconsin. I attended Washington Middle School. I was genuinely nervous because I did not know anyone or the area. Moving to Kenosha started well but took another twist. In 2019, my mother was diagnosed with cancer again, located near her spine in the back of her head. Undoubtedly, I felt my father’s pain over my mother’s illness again. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy. Hair loss and daily illness plagued her. I prayed for most in my teens.

During this time, my family suffered again. My dad was unable to work, and we had nothing. However, we were grateful for shelter. We had no electricity or water, so I charged flashlights and phones and did my schoolwork at the library. My brothers and I filled water jugs with clean water with my dad. We hid from the landlord until he caught up and evicted my family. Although we lived in our car, having each other was a blessing. God miraculously saved my mom from her second cancer diagnosis, and things improved for us. My life may seem tragic and unbelievable, but it made me who I am today. I have learned that we all experience peaks and valleys. In those valleys, you work harder to climb higher the next time. My parents’ love and my mother’s perseverance taught me never to give up, no matter how hard things get.

Gary Vargas introduced me to the Boys and Girls Club. He once asked me what I loved to do when he came to pick up my older brother. I told him everything. Mr. Vargas picked me up and took me to the Club daily. As a mentor, Gary spotted something exceptional in me and offered me many chances to become a robust and moral adult. He gave me field excursions and my first job at the Shalom Center, one of my favorite workplaces. Mr. Vargas has helped my family by delivering meals, driving me to school and other functions, and caring about my future. He has changed my family’s life, and I am delighted to call him a friend. He taught me selflessness and determination; I plan to continue his mission and help my community.

I had not learned what the Boys and Girls Club offered when I joined. From athletics to after-school help and community work, I found something to do. I started playing seven-on-seven with local boys. We became fast friends and remain close to this day. The Club showed me how to make positive decisions that improved my life and helped me achieve my goals. The Club helped me become who I want to be. I have learned decision-making, communication, self-awareness, responsibility to myself and others, and to see my potential. As a junior in high school, I now help others at The Club who are in the same situation as I have been, as Gary did for me.

I was told I would achieve a lot in the world. Become a great leader, and be persistent and dedicated since childhood. I understood empathy for others. I realized that because of all my chances at The Club, I would always try to smile to make someone else smile, knowing it could transform their day or life. I have realized that simple things matter. Small things can change someone’s life.

Not only members of The Club but also outsiders must understand its impact. Miss Wendy was another mentor for me. She would always ensure that my sister and I were included in activities at The Club. Many folks like Wendy and Gary shaped me. Thank you, Boys and Girls Club, for a secure place to play, grow, and learn. Thank you to the mentors and personnel who support youth like myself for helping students succeed in school and contribute to society.