By Dawn Krebs
MARTIN COUNTY -- With tears in her eyes, 17-year-old Bria Anderson was all smiles as she was named the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Martin County.
The reception announcing the winner took place Feb. 12 at the Susan H. Johnson Auditorium in the Wolf High Technology Center at Indian River State College Chastain Campus in Stuart in front of a packed room.
"She's a great all-around kid," said David Vaina, communications director for the organization. "She's a real role model."
Ms. Anderson, a junior at Jensen Beach High School, is a member of the Boys & Girls Club of East Stuart. This is the second time she has held this title, having been named Youth of the Year in 2011.
She's been a member of the club for 11 years, and is hoping to attend the University of Florida to pursue a career as an attorney. Over the last year, she has earned 100 volunteer hours in the community, while also helping her family care for her grandparents.
"She's had to overcome quite a bit personally," Mr. Vaina said. He added that Ms. Anderson still finds time at the club to help other children. "She's become a real mentor to the other kids, whether it's showing them how to cook or just playing basketball with them."
She was one of five students in the running for the title. The other nominees were Coleen Chan from Hobe Sound, a senior at South Fork High School who received the title of Youth of the Year for 2012; Lovely Davlimar of Palm City, a junior at the Clark Learning Center; Bridget Duignan of Port Salerno, a student at Anderson Middle School; and Kadesha Singleton of Indiantown, a senior at South Fork High School.
"The students had a full day together on the day of the reception," said Mr. Vaina. "They visited a business development board and an art gallery before eating lunch and going to the college campus for the judging."
The next step for Ms. Anderson is to represent her club at the state competition. If selected, she would then move on to the national competition.
The Boys & Girls club of Martin County works to enable all young people to reach their full potential.
"We're just amazed at the diversity of our membership," he said. "They come from all walks of life."
Mr. Vaina said that through volunteers and sponsorships, the club has really helped area children start their future and become productive citizens.
"We're so proud of all of these kids," he said. "It has really helped put their values in place."
For more information on volunteering or being a sponsor for the Boys & Girls Club of Martin County, call (772) 545-1255.