The theme of Wednesday’s Youth of the Year event is the future is in good hands. Youth of the Year honors student members who exemplify the virtues of good character, academic excellence, community service, and strong leadership. And one lucky student gets the gift of scholarship funding.
It’s very tough competing for this prize. Before Wednesday, nine candidates wrote essays and presented them in front of a prestigious panel of judges. Four of the nine made it through to the competition on Wednesday, where the final winner was announced.
“Nine candidates went through about a year-long program where they develop their skills, résumé building, how to dress, manners, how to present themselves,” Megan McCarthy Beavais, president of the Boys & Girls Club in Collier County, said.
Boys & Girls Club of Collier County. CREDIT: WINK News
She told WINK News that Wednesday’s finalist will be named 2023 Youth of the Year and will receive scholarship funding.
Yv’rose Cherelus has been a part of the club for years. Cherelus told WINK News the opportunity to compete and showcase themselves is crucial for every boy and girl who isn’t given opportunities. And that they, too, deserve the ability to shine.
“For those kids to get those opportunities because people don’t have babysitters. People can’t pay for babysitter, so I understand where they’re coming from. So this is for the boys and girls club so they can give them that’s get these kids opportunities so they can have a better future,” Cherelus said.
That is exactly what Wednesday’s winner will get the chance to do.
Not only did the Youth of the Year winner get scholarship funding, but they also get the opportunity to be a part of a statewide Youth of the Year competition, which could lead to a regional competition.
Megan told WINK News that nobody from Collier County has ever been to regionals before, but she has high hopes for the future.
The winner Wednesday night was Lawence Joseph. When Joseph heard his name, the excitement was on full display. He stepped up to the podium to give his winning speech.
Winner Lawence Joseph giving his thank you speech. CREDIT: WINK News
“Thank you, everyone, for being here and being part of the Boys and Girls family. Thank you to my mom and dad, who you know raised me for all my life. Ms. Tasheka for yelling at me. Ms. Danielle for telling her not to yell at me. and most importantly, my gfather above god, who carried me through this long journey and will carry me throughout the rest of my life thank you,” Joseph jubilantly said.