On Wednesday, February 19th at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation building, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia proudly named Guadalupe Monroy-Flores the 2020 Youth of the Year. A panel of judges comprised of Club board members and community volunteers selected Monroy-Flores, a member of the Southwood Club, among a group of four teen finalists. This is the second Youth of the Year award for Monroy-Flores, who also won in 2018. She is eligible to represent the Club in the Virginia Youth of the Year competition in April in Newport News, VA.
Once a shy, reserved 7-year-old Club member, Monroy-Flores, a 17-year-old junior at Monticello High School, has blossomed into a confident role model throughout her 11 years at the Club. Commonly known as “Monse” (MON-say) among her peers, overcoming obstacles and challenges have molded her commitment to supporting underserved people and helping them realize their dreams. Most recently, she represented the Club in Richmond at Legislative Day, sharing her story with state legislators and advocating for statewide Club support. Monroy-Flores credits her loving parents and their sacrifices for providing her and her siblings with a brighter future filled with opportunities.
Asked by the panel to describe the Club, Monroy-Flores says, “It feels like home.” She goes on to explain, “The Club has made me comfortable with myself, my story, and my community. Support and guidance that I’ve received from the Club has helped me mature in new ways. I believe it is my role to build up others and make sure they have the confidence and ability to be whoever they want to be.”
The evening highlighted the diverse ways the Club supports children, their families, and the community. Along with Monroy-Flores, the other finalists – Trevor Seale (Madison Club), Jean Edwards (Cherry Avenue Club), and Ali Payton (Orange Club) – provided personal stories that demonstrated the importance of the Club in their lives. Club service was a common theme throughout the event. Each finalist spoke about the different ways they show their appreciation to the Club, by tutoring younger Club members or volunteering as program leaders, to support the next generation of Club youth.
“I’m so impressed with our finalists, who were each incredibly deserving of this award” says Mia Woods, chief operating officer. “The kids have been hard at work, preparing essays and speeches that shine a light on their Club experience and all their accomplishments. They are a wonderful representation of the many ways the Club can impact a child’s life, and we’re so excited that Monse will be representing our entire organization in the state Youth of the Year competition.”
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition experience, focusing on stories of academic success, living a healthy lifestyle, and excellent leadership and service in the community. The goal of the program is to foster a new generation of leaders, fully prepared to live and lead in a diverse, global, and integrated world. Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state, and regional Youth of the Year events. Six regional members advance to Washington, D.C. for the National Youth of the Year Gala & Celebration dinner, where one outstanding teen is named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national spokesperson.