Reading to his peers is one of the fifth-grader’s many volunteer efforts and one of the reasons he was named the clubs’ elementary school Youth of the Year on Jan. 23.
Alex, a student at Villalovoz, said he was proud of earning the title after attending the club for three years and joining the Torch Club, a community service leadership program at the clubhouse for children 9 to 11 years old.
Part of the competition was writing a speech, which Alex worked on with help from his mother, Mary Foshee, and the Villalovoz site director, Jordan Durrance.
“Mostly about what my life was like before I joined the Boys & Girls Club, what it’s been like since I joined the Boys & Girls Club and how many life lessons the Boys & Girls Club has taught me,” Alex said.
He recited his speech for 100 people Wednesday at the annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy appreciation dinner at the Richard O. Hastie Clubhouse on Lowell Avenue.
“I am kind of excited, because I get to represent Villalovoz, but also kind of nervous, because I have to share it in front of everyone at the end of the year,” Alex said Tuesday.
Robert Pane, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy, said Alex was the Youth of the Year winner from a field of 12 contestants up to fifth grade representing the six club sites.
“He was chosen because of the work he has done for the club. He does a lot of community service with the Torch Club,” Pane said. “He is a standout, always helpful and always participating.”
Alex said he hoped to become a junior staff member at the club and one day be a firefighter in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“He is a bright kid,” Pane said. “He is going to do well and take this speech and continue to do well at our clubs.”
Alex said he wasn’t yet a model student when he joined the club.
“I was always getting poor grades and not turning in all my homework. I was kind of shy, because I didn’t make that many friends,” he said. “Once I started going to the Boys & Girls Club, I started getting help with my homework and turning it in, started making friends, and I also learned how to be helpful.”
Durrance said he had seen the changes in Alex.
“I remember because Alex was so timid to begin with, and now he is doing so many things here,” Durrance said. “He always asks to help — always asking what he can do to help, always asking to volunteer.”
Middle and high school club members also have a Youth of the Year competition, Pane said, and five club members are working on speeches. The application process includes getting recommendations from community leaders and teachers.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America organization selects area winners to compete in a Northern California contest. Paperwork has to be submitted by Tuesday, and winners will be announced in about a month.
“We’re excited, because it opens so many doors for kids,” Pane said. “We’ve gotten kids scholarships and job offers based on the work they do at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy.”
Several past winners, he said, have gone on to college.
“We steer all our kids to be successful in life and go after school,” Pane said. “Our track record with Youth of the Year is pretty good.”
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.