High school senior and Boys & Girls Club member Octavius H. shares the obstacles he has overcome to get to this moment and why his graduation is not cancelled.
I grew up in a community where there is a lot of violence. I wasn’t part of it, but I could easily have been without the Boys & Girls Club. I started going to the Club when I was in kindergarten and have gone every day after school and every summer since. Some kids in my community who’ve never gone to the Club don’t understand why I still attend. They say things like, “Aren’t you too old for daycare?” What they don’t realize is that the Boys & Girls Club is the place that prepares you for life. There’s no other experience like it.
My parents were not really in my life. My grandmother, uncle, aunt and cousin have always been here for me and believed I could be anything I want to be, but my mentors at the Club knew how to help me make it possible. They gave me the resources to support me and make a plan for the future. They’ve helped me grow into an adult.
The Passport to Manhood program has helped me become a man and learn that my choice of words and how I talk to people is important.
The Club’s Money Matters program has helped me learn about saving and managing my money so I can be responsible and have a good life.
Being the Keystone president at my Club was one of the best things I ever did. Keystone is a group of teenagers that helps around the community. I got to lead the reconstruction of my Club, including raising money, participating in meetings with important people and making improvements. It inspired me a lot about the future.
Without the Boys & Girls Club, I would have been outside in my neighborhood with negative influences. Instead, I’m graduating high school and feel mentally prepared for anything.
Graduating means a lot to me because it’s like hopping a brick wall. The biggest thing I’ve taken away from my Club experience is knowing that I’ve transitioned into who I am now because of all their guidance and mentorship. I’ve learned the importance of hard work and giving back to my community. I’ve built professional skills that have prepared me for life. I’ve grown from a mentee to a mentor and am now passing all the great skills and advice I’ve learned on to younger Club members.
I could not have gotten the experience I’ve had at the Boys & Girls Club anywhere else. As I think about the future, I want to be a mechanical engineer and maybe own a mechanic shop one day. I want to keep opening doors to new opportunities and supporting my community.
Graduation may look different this year, but it is not cancelled for all the Club seniors who’ve beaten the odds to get here. As we continue to help make graduation possible for more kids, help celebrate this year’s graduates by signing their graduation card.