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2016 Youth of Character · YMCA of the East Bay

Each year, the YMCA of the East Bay recognizes some of our most outstanding youth leaders. These young agents of change stand out amongst their peers as positive, compassionate and dedicated community members.

Anna D.

Anna Dixon is a young lady who demonstrates the 4 core values of the YMCA. She always shows up with a smile and sweet demeanor. Anna finds a way to be helpful to both campers and counselors. Her positive attitude sets an example to all YMCA campers about how we work and grow together to achieve our goals. We look to build community among our young participants and having campers like Anna with such a welcoming outlook allows for the community to thrive. Reflecting on her experience at the Y, Anna says, “I was able to be myself at the YMCA. The Counselors and my friends really showed me many new ways to be a kid. I think that all kids should go to the Y to see what kind of kid they can be.”

Devin A.

Devin Alexander is a leader and a great role model to his peers. He is also caring and empathetic and offers guidance and support to our younger students. He is very resilient and pushes through hard times with a smile on his face. He has an excellent sense of humor and his personality and smile illuminate the room when he walks in. Devin embodies the YMCA Core Values through his interactions with students and adults alike. His love of sports and competition is always balanced with fairness, team spirit and honesty. Devin is a worthy candidate for the Youth of Character Award.

Sherria Rice.

Sherria is a high achieving young woman who has defied the odds and continues to break down barriers to success. She has consistently exhibited positive character through her involvement in civic and extracurricular activities, all while achieving nearly straights A’s in honors and advance placement courses. Her consistent high academic achievements and community involvement have afforded her the opportunity to earn several college scholarships. She is determined to be the first in her family to graduate from college and escape poverty. When asked what drives her to be so determined Sherria says, “I don’t want to sleep in shelters and be forced live without basic necessities ever again in life.”

Jasmine F.

Jasmine has been an active volunteer and athlete at the YMCA for the past three years. She is a hard working student-athlete who helps out by working with the younger athletes. She is creating the community that she wants to grow in by leaving a positive impact on the younger and older lives that she connects with. Behind her quiet speaking voice is a loud personality that is full of growth and positivity. Jasmine says about the Y, “You can experience having a safe place to be and there is definitely a place for everyone. I have also gained many new friends and social skills that will help me succeed later in life. I think that my experience at the YMCA will help me in the future as it has given me crucial social and leadership skills.”

Elisa V.

Sarah has demonstrated that character counts through her hard work and dedication in the Eden Area YMCA’s Youth and Government program. Once a shy student, Sarah has shown tremendous personal growth over the last year due to her commitment, drive and willingness to try new things. Sarah now holds the office of Secretary in her delegation and received the award for “Most Inspirational—a freshman leading by example”. Valued and respected by both her peers and the YMCA community at large, Sarah has shown tremendous leadership in fundraising, volunteerism and youth activism. We are so proud to honor Sarah as the Eden Area YMCA’s Youth of Character!

Nikhil G.

Nikhil is in his second year of Youth and GovernmentTM and is currently our delegation’s Vice President. Nikhil is also active in many other ways. He leads a group of middle school students in Toastmasters to help them excel at their public speaking skills and serves lunches at our local senior community center over the summer. We are continually grateful for his dedication to his community and our YMCA. Nikhil says about his experience with the Y, “The time I have spent at the Y has molded me into a better leader. I learned how to convey my ideas and have my ideas heard. It has transformed me into a leader who takes initiative, a trait that will help me my entire life.”

Loren C.

This was Elisa’s first year as a Youth and GovernmentTM delegate and she served as the delegation’s Secretary. Elisa’s dedication to the YMCA is shown through her can-do attitude and willingness to go above and beyond the task at hand. When not participating in Y&G, Elisa is involved in many other school activities and participates in programs that give back to her community such as Peer Advocates and Our Space, an LGBTQ youth community center that holds the experiences, strengths and needs of systems-involved youth at their core, and recognizes those youth as fierce and fabulous change-agents in their community. Elisa is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people around her, specifically those in the LGBTQ community. Reflecting on her experience, Elisa says, “with the help of friends and advisers, I was able to grow as a person and express myself freely to those around me. My experiences at the Y have better prepared me for pursuing a career of my choosing, as I now know I have a voice to make a change. For future participants in YMCA programs, the best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to express yourself and share your opinions.”

Sarah "Snake" P.

Snake is a long-time camper at Camp Loma Mar who moved into the Camper in Leadership Training (CILT) program this year. After her first two weeks in the CILT program, she was invited to join as an Assistant Leader, and with gratitude and eagerness, she spent 4 weeks working hard for camp. Sarah says “The YMCA has allowed me to develop a stronger sense of who I am and what matters to me. In addition, I have been able to develop the skills I need to succeed in life. Camp has greatly improved my public speaking ability and confidence in general.” When asked about her advice to future campers, she said, “Have an open mind! You must be willing to be open to trying new things, talking to new people, and being exposed to new ideas.”

Vilisoni "Mew" T.

Mew has been part of Camp Ravencliff for many years, starting as a youth camper, teen camper and then moving into the Camper in Leadership Training (CILT) program for the past 3 summers. As a CILT, he has shown tremendous growth through collaboration and self-examination, a habit of leading by example rather than vocalization, willingness to complete any tasks asked of him at any time and, most notably, an entirely unique and meaningful strategy for relating to campers and fellow CILTs. “I have gotten so much out of the YMCA and camp in general. I have met many exceptional people at camp who have influenced me in my daily life.” Vilisoni’s recommendation to future participants in YMCA programs is to “be grateful for the opportunity of working with the YMCA and use the programs for self-improvement.”

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