By Erin Porteous, CEO

The power of the Boys & Girls Club experience is that our Clubs provide a strong foundation as well as inspiration for budding young leaders in our community. This impact is felt profoundly by the young people who spend their adolescent years in the Clubs. With the consistency of our staff who serve as coaches, mentors and committed role models, our teen members are able to reveal and discover their potential and purpose.

That’s why, this month, I am thrilled to share this platform with our Club, City and State Youth of the Year winner, Gi. The Youth of the Year award is the most prestigious character & leadership title a Boys & Girls Club member can earn. As our State Youth of the Year winner, Gi represents more than 40,000 Club members across Colorado.

By Erin Porteous, CEO

The power of the Boys & Girls Club experience is that our Clubs provide a strong foundation as well as inspiration for budding young leaders in our community. This impact is felt profoundly by the young people who spend their adolescent years in the Clubs. With the consistency of our staff who serve as coaches, mentors and committed role models, our teen members are able to reveal and discover their potential and purpose.

That’s why, this month, I am thrilled to share this platform with our Club, City and State Youth of the Year winner, Gi. The Youth of the Year award is the most prestigious character & leadership title a Boys & Girls Club member can earn. As our State Youth of the Year winner, Gi represents more than 40,000 Club members across Colorado.

Gi has demonstrated resilience, perseverance, leadership, and a dedication to community service over their lifetime, and I could not be prouder to share their voice with each of you today. Read on for Gi’s winning Youth of the Year speech:

You always hear people say, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” but I never truly understood that saying until COVID hit and I lost the ability to go to my “home” everyday and see my chosen family, my support system. As a Club kid for seven years, I always knew the Cope Boys & Girls Club was my safe place, but I didn’t truly grasp just how much I relied on the consistency and love that pours out of those big blue doors until it was gone.

In art, a picture plane is the set area you have to create. When I came into this world my picture plane was small and colorless. As I got older my picture plane stayed the same in size, but slowly added dark, dim colors and ideals that had been taught to me by my family and peers. It was a very colorless boring piece of art. But that all changed the day eleven-year-old Gi stepped foot into the Boys & Girls Club.

During my first 5 years as a Club kid, my picture plane grew immensely! I went from being a shy, closeted kid to a strong, independent youth who found the power in their voice and identity! I developed great public speaking skills along with being president of the Keystone Leadership Club where I lead my peers in community action and programs. I found my love for soccer at the Club and have been playing varsity every year of high school. Because of the love and support that pulsates through Cope I was able to survive many traumas and struggles in life, like the loss of my brother and the fear of whether I would have a house to come home to.

These past two years, however, a vibrant and beautiful image has been growing bigger and more colorful day by day. I have had the opportunity to create and lead many programs focused on helping our youth and teaching them the importance of self-love and healing. Here at the Club, because of the kids and the change I realized I could create, I found my passion for working with youth in underprivileged communities.

As of August, I will be a freshman at Naropa University pursuing a contemplative art degree. My dream is to work with at-risk youth in hopes of giving them the support and encouragement they deserve, giving them the opportunities that the Club gave me! In these last months as a senior at the Cope Boys & Girls Club, I have come to realize that my picture plane has completely evaporated because there are no longer any limits or barriers of what is possible for me. The world is my picture plane and I’m ready to gift it with my passions and voice.

Please join me in congratulating this incredible Club member on this truly amazing achievement. We all know that the future is incredibly bright for Gi. Interested to hear more? I will also be doing a video interview with Gi that we will share via our social media channels and newsletter in July. And I am absolutely positive this is one voice you don’t want to miss.