Walida's Journey

Our 2015 Youth of the Year, shares her story:

When I was very young my parents emigrated from Bangledesh to the United States. Living in the Farragut Projects in northwest Brooklyn, a community that suffers physical and economic isolation, my mother always made sure that my sister and I were okay.

My mom knew our neighborhood was dangerous and wanted my sister and me to be in a safe place, which is why she sent us to Madison’s Navy Yard Clubhouse. Before coming to the Club, I was intimidated by the other kids at school and in the neighborhood. But the first time I stepped foot in the Club, I knew this was the place I wanted to be and it would be home. I met supportive mentors that pushed me to participate and helped me gain confidence in sharing my thoughts with other kids. My favorite mentor Derren, called me out when I shrank away from the spotlight. He encouraged me to make a new friend every day!

Now, at the age of 17, I am a mentor for the younger kids in the Club. When I am helping them with reading, math and art I fondly remember my time as a little kid at the Club. I remember how shy I was in my early days and how encouragement from staff made me more confident and outgoing. I am no longer the quietest person in the room. I am not afraid to use my voice and encourage others! I have taken these skills and applied them to school, as an AP student and a member of the National Honor Society I know I am ready for college and I am confident that my dream of becoming a bio-chemist will become a reality.

Families trust Madison Square Boys & Girls Club with the safety and guidance of their sons and daughters. My family trusted the Club and it transformed me into who I am today. I want to be a beacon of hope for all youth who grew up like me.

You can help too – it’s easy – just make a gift. You will join me and be an inspiration for other young kids who desperately need the Club to help grow their confidence and see their dreams come true.

During this season of giving thanks, I thank you in advance for your support and helping thousands of New York kids like me! 

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