PAWTUCKET — Mellany Rodas, 18, a senior at St. Raphael Academy and a Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket member for five years, has been named the Club’s 2013 Youth of the Year.
Rodas, of Central Falls, was chosen from a pair of youth nominees during the annual Youth of the Year dinner at the Alfred Elson, Jr. Clubhouse on Tuesday, March 26. Rodas has been accepted to URI and Newbury College and aspires to career options in physical therapy or sociology. She is a steadying presence at home with her three sisters and mother, contributing to her family through working, caring and maturity.
“I’m excited and honored to be chosen the Youth of the Year,” said Rodas. “This Club has meant so much to me. I have learned here, played here, and made so many friendships. I am very proud to be an ambassador of the Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket. Being here has taught me many lessons and made me the person I am today.”
As a student, she has been involved with the St. Raphael Lasallian Youth. As a volunteer, she has helped organize and distribute food and gifts during the school’s Thanksgiving and Christmas Adopt-a-Family program. She has participated in the Good Friday Walk for Hunger through Project Hope.
Also, Rodas serves as a peer minister in school. She was inducted into the Pawtucket Teen Hall of Fame in 2012 for her community service. Rodas also finds time at school to play basketball for the Lady Saints.
Her involvement at the Club includes the Keystone Club through which, along with other teens, she has assisted at events such as Day for Kids, Winter Wonderland at Slater Park, and turkey dinner distribution to local families at Thanksgiving. She has compiled more than 230 volunteer hours working with younger Club members as part of the junior staff program.
Club CEO James Hoyt said, “Mellany has been a mature, helpful, positive and involved member since she joined the Club in 2008. She has steadily grown into a role model for our younger members through her work as a junior staff member as well as her obvious dedication to community service. We are all proud to have her represent us as Youth of the Year.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year recognition is the highest honor a Club member can achieve. Since its inception in 1947, the Youth of the Year program, sponsored by Tupperware, celebrates youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Nominees for the Youth of the Year, ages 14 to 18, exhibit the personal qualities that Pawtucket Club membership fosters such as honesty, responsibility, caring, fairness and respect. As with all Club members, the nominees are taught to become the best citizens they can be.
These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family. Each of the local teen’s 2013 candidacy was weighed in these categories by a panel of judges that included Pam Abrantes, Rachelle Breault, Dan Brito (1988 Youth of the Year), John Hofmann, David Lockwood and John Thompson.
As the Pawtucket Club’s Youth of the Year, Rodas will advance to competition at the state level along with youth from Rhode Island’s six other Clubs. The winner of the state contest, to be held on April 24, wins a $1,000 scholarship from the Tupperware Foundation and moves on in July to regional consideration among a field of 14. Each of the five regional winners receives a $10,000 college scholarship from Tupperware. In September, the regional winners will compete in the national competition, which, in addition to a $15,000 scholarship award from Tupperware, includes installation by President Obama in a White House Oval Office ceremony.
The Club’s other 2013 Youth of the Year candidate was Alex Holloway, a sophomore at St. Raphael Academy and a Club member for 10 years. Holloway hopes to one day become an anesthesiologist. He is an active member in Club basketball programs, not only as a player, but also as a mentor, helping younger members learn to play the game.
Local businesses and other organizations contributed gifts and scholarships to the Youth of the Year winner. The Ninety Nine Restaurant, supported by the Attleboro and Foxboro locations, presented Rodas with a Visa gift card and a Ninety Nine gift certificate. She also received the Thompson Family Scholarship, a $1,000 award established in memory of Joseph E. Thompson, and the McHale Family Foundation Scholarship awarded her a $1,000 scholarship.
The Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket has served the community through recreational and educational programs since 1900. Today, the Club has more than 4,000 members. Charitable donations help the Club’s mission of enhancing the lives of youth and families and providing hope for the future.