Special to the Press
BRISTOL - Jillian Maghini was awarded the 2017 Youth of the Year Award for her commitment, dedication and leadership roles at the Bristol Boys & Girls Club.
“I’m just so overwhelmed and emotional right now,” said Maghini, who was nominated for the award last December. “This is truly an honor, I’m at a loss for words. I am so glad this is happening right now.”
Teen Director Nicole Steer said Maghini was “very unique” and “one of a kind.”
“I get to work with her, hang out with her and have fun with her on a daily basis, which makes my life much easier. I can’t imagine the club without Jill,” said Steer.
Steve Beecher, athletic director at the Bristol Boys & Girls Club for 11 years, nominated Maghini.
“I’m a big proponent of volunteering before getting a job. Jill volunteered for an entire summer before we actually brought her on to be a staff member. If you put in the hours to volunteer, the chances of becoming a staff member are very high.”
Typically, Beecher explained, the Youth of the Year is a past club member who also has volunteered for the club.
“I first want to thank Steve,” Maghini said to the crown after being nominated. “I’ve known you since I was a little girl and you have always stuck by my side. You believing in me has kept me going. This place is my home. I understand my worth when I walk through these doors.”
Each of the five candidates were staff members at the club and part of the Keystone Club, which consists of high school volunteers that log in a certain amount of hours to be ranked in the Boys & Girls Club of America.
“The Keystone Club does everything such as things with the shelter and all types of community events,” said Beecher.
After candidates were nominated, they had to create a packet that included essays about themselves, how they represent the club and their views on the future of youth, which took months, explained Maghini.
The packets were then reviewed by ESPN Corporate Manager Don Brooks, owner of Thrivent Financial Julia Weston and President of the Older Member Association Allen Stone, to determine a winner that will proceed onto the regional contest, and hopefully the nationals.
Candidates then had a roughly 20 minute interview with the judges about how candidates represent the club and the future of the youth, explained Don Coombs, who had been part of the OM for five years and is now the vice president.
“Each candidate had a different story, but all had to do with leadership roles or overcoming adversity,” said Brooks, who is a first-year, local judge and judged the nationals last year. “There was also a lot about how without the club, they wouldn’t be where they are.”
The OM has worked with the club for 90 years, and was created for alumni after four 18-year-old members were told they could not participate in the club because of their age, explained Stone. There are about 35 currently active members and about 15 who are active, but unable to consistently participate.
Youth of the Year awards have been given every year since the 1940s and nominees represent the top half percent of youth in the country, explained Chief Professional Officer Michael Suchopar. “There are 4.5 million kids who attend the Boys and Girls Clubs in and out of the country, you all are the top of what youth should be in this country and represent the best of what kids can be. In reality, each one of you stand out above the crowd.”