As The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs kicks off its annual “Great Futures” campaign, one of its brightest success stories had her moment in the spotlight.
Tonea Welch, a senior at Myers Park High School and member of the Marsh Road Club since the first grade, was announced as the 2018-19 Youth of the Year Tuesday at the annual Great Futures Breakfast, a kickoff event to raise awareness and support for the Clubs
Tonea found a home at the Club, but it wasn’t always easy. It was at the Club during Power Hour, a daily time where students complete homework assignments, where she discovered she had trouble focusing. She began displaying negative behaviors and getting into trouble. By third grade, she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (commonly known as ADHD). The Youth Development Professionals at the Club worked patiently with Tonea, helping her to continue to grow and improve, in spite of her challenges.
“It was the Boys & Girls Club that gave me the courage to learn again and fight for my education,” Welch said in her speech at the event. “Club staff saw my potential and worked with me.”
And, Club staff do this day in and day out for countless others.
Steve Luquire, a prominent businessman in Charlotte, shared a similar account of his time at the Boys Club in Durham when he was growing up. Luquire addressed attendees Tuesday, recounting the time when his Boys Club basketball coach believed in him and encouraged him.
“Coach helped me believe that if you work hard and stick with it, good things will come to you,” Luquire said.
It wasn’t always easy for him. His family lived in a tough area – the east side of Durham.
“I didn’t let where I live determine where I was going,” he said. “Geography and zip codes shouldn’t determine what kids are going to be.”
And, that’s why Boys & Girls Clubs are so critical. Our Clubs are located in zip codes where kids need us most. Our staff is there to help kids – like Tonea and Steve – overcome challenges and achieve a great future. As CEO of his own advertising firm, LGA, Steve has done it. And, with plans to go to college to major in childhood development, Tonea is well on her way.