By Jetaun Adkins, Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaSeptember 24, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. (Boys & Girls Clubs of America) -- Boys & Girls Clubs of America named RaShaan Allen the 2013-2014 Military Youth of the Year in a reception held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va.
A member of Devers Youth Center in Fort Knox, Ky., Allen will receive a $20,000 scholarship, and serve as BGCA's official youth advocate for military teens.
To earn the Military Youth of the Year honor, Club youth served on military installations must advance through local, state and regional competitions-demonstrating how they have achieved academic success, and made outstanding contributions to their family, school, community and BGCA-affiliated youth center, while overcoming personal obstacles. Allen was one of six military youth finalists competing for the honor, which is supported by National Government Services Foundation and University of Phoenix.
"This is the first year that the Youth of the Year initiative was expanded to recognize youth who are members of BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide," said Terrill Wicks, national vice president, Military & Outreach Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"At BGCA, we are proud to be one of the largest partners of the armed services to provide youth development programs and services to children of military families. We're also honored to recognize this outstanding young person, who understands the unique circumstances that face our military youth. RaShaan will serve as a strong advocate for the 500,000 young people we serve on U.S. military installations worldwide."
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Allen lost his home, his neighborhood, his school and his best friend, leaving what he says is a permanent hole in his heart. Today, it is clear his heart is healing, even if the hole will never completely disappear. Allen credits Club and extracurricular activities with helping him grow and heal. He served as co-president of the Club Youth Council and as Army Family Action Plan delegate. At school, RaShaan played eight varsity sports and captained six of those teams. He also served as president of both his freshman and senior classes. He was elected governor at Kentucky Boys State, a program focused on state government. He is now at Western Kentucky University, where he plans to major in political science.
"National Government Services Foundation is a proud supporter of servicemen and women, veterans and their families with the work we do," said Mike Kapp, National Government Services president. "We are proud to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America and help acknowledge Club members on military installations who not only excel academically, but also give back to their community and local Club, while their family members are serving our country."
Since 1991, BGCA has provided services to children of military personnel, a significant resource to these families as they face the tough challenges of frequent relocation and parent deployment. Currently, BGCA serves almost 500,000 youth on almost 400 U.S. military installations worldwide.
In partnership with the military, BGCA is redoubling its commitment to better serve families of active military personnel, and to reach more families of veterans, ill or wounded soldiers.
The morning prior to naming the first ever Military Youth of Year, BGCA hosted the 2013 Great Think Breakfast for Military Youth & Families. During the event, the organization convened military thought leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors in an executive roundtable to discuss the critical gaps in services and outline solutions focused on key areas to better support military youth and families remain resilient in times of transition. BGCA intends to publish a white paper later this year outlining findings from the session.
NOTE: From a Boys & Girls Clubs of America release