Watertown Boys & Girls Club Announces 2024 Youth of the Year Winner

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The Watertown Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year for 2024, Yazmin Ramirez Arias. (Courtesy Photo)

The following announcement was provided by the Watertown Boys & Girls Club:

The Watertown Boys & Girls Club held their Annual “Rising Stars” Youth of the Year Awards Celebration on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 in the Club’s gymnasium. Three highly qualified Club Member were nominated as a result of their service at the Club and further in the community. Yazmin Ramirez Arias was named the Watertown Boys & Girls Club “Youth of the Year.”

In this Leadership Development Program, Club Members nominated by Club Staff are prompted to write a “Club Experience” Essay that shares their achievements and why they personally believe they should be named “Youth of the Year.” They present this essay to local judges who collectively decide the top candidate.

The top chosen candidate and Official “Youth of the Year” will represent The Watertown Boys & Girls Club and qualify for the next step to compete at the State Event for the title of Massachusetts Youth of the Year on May 7, 2024 at Gillette Stadium. The next competition would be Northeast Youth of the Year and a final chance to compete among all regions and be delegated the National Youth of the Year and representative of The Boys & Girls Club of America for the entire country.

The process involved a thorough review of qualifying Members by the Club’s leadership team. Once the decision was made, the final candidates were asked a series of questions to generate profiles for each Member.

Within the candidates’ profiles, two of the nominees mentioned Kerry Evans, Director of Administration and Special Projects as their favorite person at the Club. “I feel honored to be mentioned by nominees during this process. I watched these kids grow up at the Club, so I feel like a part of their extended family,” said Evans.” Seeing them make great strides at such an early age has made me so proud. I can’t wait to see what they continue to achieve in the future!” 

During the Youth of the Year event, each candidate presented their essays in front of local judges who used criteria to determine their top choice based on essay quality, public speaking skills, Q&A responses and overall application quality. The judges were Renee Gaudette, Former WBGC Executive Director (2013-2022), Jen Nicholson, WBGC Board Member and Events Coordinate at the Commander’s Mansion, and Antonia O’Hara, Vice President at Watertown Savings Bank.

Yazmin Ramirez Arias speaks during the Watertown Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year ceremony. Also pictured is Gary Beatty, theExecutive Director of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club. (Courtesy Photo)

The winning essay written by Yazmin Ramirez Arias can be read below:

At the age of seven, I moved from Allston to Watertown. I’m not good with change, and I ended up closing myself off from the other kids around me. It was halfway through second grade when my mom signed me up for the Club’s after-school program. There, I found the atmosphere to be different than anything I had ever experienced before. The staff members were very kind and encouraging. I was able to have fun like I used to, and I finally was able to open up again. I felt more comfortable. I became outgoing, and from that, I developed many other important skills. With the activities provided by the Club, I got many chances to refine those skills. 

One of the major things I did was participate in the soccer group tournament. I’ll admit I wasn’t the greatest, but it was fun, and I played for about a total of two years. During that time, I learned the importance of teamwork. We all wanted to win so that we could get that pizza party, and to do that we had to work hard as a team, which also involves communication. In my team, we gave each other advice on how we could improve. During the game, we had to communicate the strategy that we were going for. Another activity that I frequently engaged in was the cooking class. One of the classes that has stuck with me was when we made eggs with broccoli. I’m a picky eater, and at the time, that didn’t sound very appealing, but I still carried on with making the dish because the staff assured me that it wouldn’t be bad. It also helped that my friends were participating in the activity. When we were finished, I tried it, and it wasn’t bad at all. This dish remains one of my favorites of all time. It was then that I learned that I needed to keep an open mind and that not everything that sounded odd was necessarily a bad thing. I am grateful for the staff that helped me get out of my comfort zone and try this dish. I was always encouraged by the staff to try something new, which always gave me something to look forward to. 

Every day at school I would count down the minutes until I was able to go to WBGC. I got to hang out with my friends and play with the staff. Someone who used to work there at the time was Rhode Moise. Every day I got off the bus, she would always greet me with a smile. It was a warm smile that made me feel happy and welcomed. At the time I was a timid child, even now I’m still quite shy, but she would still encourage me to try out activities that would be out of my comfort zone. In the past, I would have always refused, but since it was Rhode, I always participated in said activities because I trusted her. I remember that every Wednesday she would teach hip-hop classes. I would always join because I felt comfortable around her, and in general, it was fun being around her. Rhode would also let us develop some of our moves to express ourselves. Thanks to Rhode I became more confident in who I am as a person.

With the confidence I gained, I joined the Torch Club with my friends. Torch Club was a club that would volunteer and help around the community. Within Torch Club, there were the positions of president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. I felt confident in my abilities to become president and ultimately ended up running for the position. I ended up getting elected as President of the Torch Club. There I learned what it’s like to lead a group of people and how important it is to communicate with them. My time in Torch Club prepared me for Keystone, which is like Torch Club, but for high schoolers. We mainly host party events for the kids and sell snacks. Being with kids I learned that patience is key. I learned that I had to take the time to listen to the kids and to understand them to be able to help them. Little by little I started to understand them. I realize now that I was able to apply the skills and values that the staff always showed me when I was a younger member. This year I am now vice president of Keystone and I have refined these skills with the experience I have gained. And who knows? Maybe next year I’ll go for president. 

I look back, on who I was ten years ago when I first started coming here. And who I’ve become since. I am grateful to the Club that I was able to become someone outgoing, open-minded, and a leader. Applying what I’ve learned from my seven years of being a member of the Watertown Boys and Girls Club to my life everywhere. With the skills I’ve developed and refined, through the activities at the Club. I’m confident that I will continue to succeed moving forward. I’m thankful that the Club was there for me during a dark period in my life, and extremely grateful for the staff and friends who have helped me along the way to become the person I am today.

About the Youth of the Year

Youth of the Year is one of the Club’s top leadership programs that gives Club Members a chance to stand out from the crowd of dedicated Club Kids who make commitments every day to represent WBGC and take action to make their community a better place. This Celebration is a special day for nominees and their families to come together and celebrate their achievements.

Club Director and Youth of the Year Coordinator, Anthony Parker, reflects on his experience helping the candidates through this process. “The Youth of the Year process is an opportunity for a young person to experience a ‘what if’ moment by allowing them to think broadly and deeply about the world around them, how they want that world to improve, and to start thinking through how they can be a critical part of the change they want to see happen,” said Parker. “The YOY process exposes these young people to ideas, opinions, and feedback that they may not have had before. The process itself is an exercise in leadership and perseverance. The discipline needed to complete this process and the rewards of getting to the state competition is a valuable experience that can benefit a student whether they win or not.”

After achieving the Club Youth of the Year title, Arias prepared additional essays, a resume and cover letter due the first week of April to qualify for the State Competition where she will produce an additional presentation.

Local businesses provided generous donations in support of this wonderful event. Condesa Restaurante Mexicano of Watertown for providing a delicious selection of appetizers. Cass the Florist provided beautiful centerpiece displays.

About the Watertown Boys & Girls Club

For over 50 years, the Watertown Boys and Girls Club has been building great futures for the youth and teens in the Watertown community. Our club is a safe, creative setting with trained, compassionate staff who help guide, mentor and coach boys and girls in achieving academic success, build character, connect with peers and develop healthy habits for a great future.

Our mission is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those that need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.” Through affordable access to highly valued programs, WBGC lays the foundation on which youth can build a successful future. Your investment in quality programming will result in long-term positive impact on local youth within your own community.

Follow WBGC on social media for updates:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WatertownBoysandGirlsClub/

Instagram: @watertownbgc

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/watertown-boys-and-girls-club

Partnership and sponsorship opportunities are available for corporations, small businesses and other local entities to support the Club’s efforts. Please contact Veronica Parsloe, Director of Development, Communications and Marketing, Watertown Boys & Girls Club at (617) 926-0968 or vparsloe@watertownbgc.org for more information.

Make a donation to The Watertown Boys & Girls Club by sending a check made payable to “Watertown Boys & Girls Club” to Watertown Boys & Girls Club, 25 Whites Ave, Watertown, MA 02472 or follow the link below to provide support for families in need!  https://secure.donationpay.org/watertownbgc

For updates on WBGC programs and services, visit WatertownBGC.org.

One thought on “Watertown Boys & Girls Club Announces 2024 Youth of the Year Winner

  1. Congrats Yazmin Ramirez Arias. You are a rising star and will accomplish a lot in your life. This is amazing recognition and award. What a poignant and moving reflection on the challenges that you faced. The Watertown Boys and Girls club is such an important place for families and children in town. I encourage everyone to support this vital resource. Way to go!! so wonderful to read about the positive people that comprise Watertown.

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