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Youth of the Year

The Youth of the Year program, which has been nationally sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation for 58 years, recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club; academic excellence; as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome.

Meet the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Youth of the Year
Jayla Williams

Age: 16
School: Gainesville High School

Jayla grew up attending the Club, and attributes a small trophy received for her participation in the softball program to giving her the aspirations to be the outstanding young lady she is today. Eight years ago, Jayla remembers coming to the Club because it was a safe place she could stay after school. New friendships and relationships with staff members quickly developed and Jayla soon looked forward to spending her time at the Club. Jayla states “The staff is always caring and listens when I need someone to talk to. I’ve started to think of them as if they were my family.”

As a young girl, Jayla’s father played an influential role in her life. At the age of ten, her parents divorced. “The Boys & Girls Clubs started to mean more to me then,” recalls Jayla. Recently, Jayla’s father passed away. Jayla claims “With the prayers and words of encouragement from the staff and members, the Boys & Girls Club has helped me through this tough time.” She adds “My dad’s last words were that he was proud of me. I will strive to continue to make him proud and honor his last words.”

Despite her struggles, Jayla has done many things of which to be proud. With a 4.0 GPA, Most Valuable Player and Coach’s Awards for softball, and serving as the Vice President in the Keystone Club, a program at the Club that promotes community service, she has exemplified Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyles, and Good Character & Citizenship. The Boys & Girls Club believes these three areas are essential to molding productive, responsible, and caring citizens. Because of all of her accomplishments, and all she has done to overcome personal struggle, Jayla has been awarded the Youth of the Year title.

If Jayla wins at the state competition, she will compete for the title of Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands, the recognition program’s national sponsor. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2015, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.

Other finalists for the Youth of the Year were 17 year old Gabriel Copeland and 16 year old Montavous Cantrell, both from Gainesville High School.


2013 Youth of the Year-Donavan Moss, 
Runner-Up in State Youth of the Year

“I plan on being great,” stated Donavan Moss as he competed against 32 other teens from across Georgia

where he was named the 2013 Youth of the Year Runner-up for the State of Georgia.                                                                                                                                                                                                .

Raised by his mom, a single parent, Donavan Moss-current senior at Gainesville High School, learned at an early age that he would need to grow up fast and work hard to accomplish his dreams. The oldest of three he knew it was up to him to set the example for his younger siblings and to help his struggling mom provide for the basics in life.

“The Club taught me how to be a man, how to walk with confidence – head up, chest out – how to provide and help those in need.” “Everyone is great at something, whether it be, singing, dancing, writing, or even speaking – you just have to find that one thing. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County taught me this. The Boys & Girls Club has helped mold the man you see before you today.”

Donavan believes that it is important to give back and serve others in his community. In doing so, he is very active in his church and serves as a bible study counselor.

He has also organized a youth volunteer group to help with Good News at Noon Homeless shelter. Donavan feels that working and being involved with people from all backgrounds  has helped mold his character and leadership skills. In top picture, left to right: Donavan, Katulka, Mickens, Jasmin. In bottom picture, left to right: Dedricka Stoval, Gabriel Copeland, Donovan Moss, Greg Katulka, Brenqueze Dukes, Jasmin Gaudlock. 

2011 Youth of the Year- Qymane Brawner

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County name Qymane Brawner the 2011Youth of the Year.

Qymane has been a member of the Club for 9 years and attributes much of his success in school and future aspirations to the life lessons he learned while at the Clubs. Qymane has learned at an early age that leadership is an important characteristic to have, especially when you are the oldest of thirteen brothers and sisters.  He always tries and make sure that his two younger brothers, Micah and Javontae, stay on the right track.  Even with his father in and out of his life, Qymane always strives for the best.

Qymane believes that a positive attitude will carry us far in life and he exudes confidence to those around him. “You should not have to remind someone of the person you are," stated Qymane, "they should be able to see it through the things you do.  When you can do the right thing in public  - when no one is watching,  you have moral character.”

2012 Youth of the Year- Alexis Hawks
Congratulations to Alexis Hawks! Alexis is the 2012 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. As the 2012 Youth of the Year, she went on to represent our Clubs at the State Youth of the Year competition which was recently held in Atlanta, Georgia. Although Alexis did not win the state competition, she was awarded first place for “best speech” out of 52 contestants. “Being a part of the Youth of the Year program and having the opportunity to represent my club in the state

Alexis Hawks.Derrick.stateYOY.jpegcompetition has been very rewarding,” said Alexis Hawks, BGCHC 2012 Youth of the Year. “I feel that I have grown so much and have gained confidence that will help me in all of my future endeavors.”

Alexis is a 17-year-old senior at Gainesville High School and has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs for 12 years. Alexis has two sisters and lives with her parents Mark and Sandra Hawks.

Alexis demonstrates leadership at home by being a role model for her two sisters. Alexis supports her two sisters in all of their extracurricular activities.  She makes good grades in school and lets her sisters know that God is the one who made it possible.

Alexis is extremely active in school where she is a member of the drama club, Beta Club, Skills USA, HOSA, Peer Mentorship, and she is also on the Varsity Football Cheerleading team.  She is an honor roll student with a GPA of 3.89. ”The Club is where I learned the value of education, college and being a positive role model and leader. Every time I walk through the doors of the Teen Center, I know I will walk out more fulfilled. I am proud to represent the youth of Hall County as Youth of the Year,” said Alexis.

Alexis believes moral character is vitally important to today’s teenagers. Her parents taught her at an early age to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  She has carried this philosophy in her heart and mind.  She strives to be an example to other teenagers and believes places such as the Boys and Girls Clubs create positive and safe places for teenagers to learn and grow.

Alexis is a natural leader and a take-charge kind of person with a great motivating attitude.

Way to go Alexis! We are all so very proud of you!

Pictured above: Derrick Caldwell on the left with Alexis Hawks on the right.

Past Youths of the Year:

2010 Youth of the Year-Teryan Rucker 

2008 Youth of the Year-
Ed Hollis

2007 Youth of the Year- Michael Holeman