The stars came out to shine as Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County (BGCSLC) hosted their annual Youth of the Year Celebration on February 5, at Club Talavera in PGA Verano. Five outstanding candidates endured months of preparation, coaching and personal development to make their individual speeches to a panel of judges and then to a crowd of over 200 in the hopes of earning the title Youth of the Year. The Judges were faced with a difficult decision. Every candidate rose to the occasion with their firsthand stories of mental health, anxiety, depression, bullying and how they overcame those obstacles through BGCSLC. Ultimately, Amy De Los Santos a member of the Chuck Hill Club was chosen to represent St. Lucie County and move on to the state competition.
Amy has not let the obstacles she’s faced define her. Basing her platform around breaking the boundaries centered around mental health, the St. Lucie West Centennial High School Junior has chosen instead to grow from life’s challenges. Battling with depression for many years, Amy believes that the true meaning of strength is having the power to reinvent your story. She credits the change in her paradigm to her mindset, a healthy lifestyle, Boys and Girls Club and the love of her mother.
The Youth of the Year ceremonies also serves as the organization’s annual board meeting. In between the candidate’s presentations, Major Brian Hester of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office was recognized with the Capt. Charles Scavuzzo New Board Member of the Year Award. Leslie Kristof, incoming Board Chair and Keiser University Port St. Lucie Campus President was recognized with the Bill Blazak Board Member of the year recognition.
The Youth of the Year award recognizes students who work hard, invest in themselves and demonstrate leadership in their schools, clubs, and communities. Much of Amy’s growth has taken place at the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County Chuck Hill location. “It’s a place where you can be yourself, and while you’re being yourself, you have other people rooting for you,” she said. “The kids, the staff, everybody in here wants to see you do good. Everybody in here wants to see everybody achieve something.”
Amy stays busy outside of the club science, cooking, weightlifting, and hopes to become a Maternity Nurse. After graduation, she plans to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where she would like to pursue a degree in Nursing. She said she always thought her high school graduation would be her first great accomplishment.
Boys & Girls Club’s slogan is “Great futures start here,” said Will Armstead, CEO of BGCSLC., and Amy is the epitome of that idea. “We are all excited to rally behind her and take pride in the fact that we have a representative from a really special community that’s being recognized at the state level.
Amy received a $5,000 scholarship from GL Homes and an Honor Flight experience as an escort for a veteran from Dr. Shamsher Singh. Each of the four runner ups received a $1,000 scholarship from The Andrew and Robin Hunt Philanthropic Fund at The Community Foundation Martin – St. Lucie, and everyone was presented with an iPad from the Peter W. Busch Family Foundation.