High school senior and Boys & Girls Club member Octavius H. shares the obstacles he had overcome to get to this life-changing moment — high school graduation.
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. Here are some of the programs and experiences that shaped my time at the Club and prepared me for a great future:
Without the Boys & Girls Club, I would have been outside in my neighborhood with negative influences. Instead, I’m graduating from 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 the guidance and mentorship I received. 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.
11.3 million kids and teens like Octavius don’t have a safe place to go after school. Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America will give more youth a safe and inclusive environment, positive adult influences and the life-enhancing experiences necessary to become anything they can dream — because dreams have no limits when kids have Clubs.
This updated story was originally posted on May 15, 2020.