This week, HMA had the great pleasure to see Olga Fernandez named the Boys & Girls Club State Youth of the Year at the 11th Annual Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Legislative Breakfast, presented by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. She is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s Rose Lane Branch.
Olga is pretty special to us here at HMA as Abbie is on the board with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, and our team assists them in their strategic communications needs.
Below, please enjoy her speech – and wish her good luck as she prepares to represent the State of Arizona at the regional competition to be held in July at the Fairmont Newport Beach in Newport Beach, Calif.
Take it away, Olga:
Me siento triste. No tengo con quien hablar. Nadie me entiende.
I am feeling sad. I have no one to talk to and am not being understood. Those were the exact thoughts that went through my mind on my first day at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. I was a lonely Spanish speaking seven-year-old who thought nothing good could come out of this move to America.
Little did I know that it would become a place where I felt accepted and at liberty to just be me; a place where I would build lasting relationships and learn to express myself; a place where I would gain the confidence that I so desperately needed and a place where I learned that my differences were not so different.
The fairy tale club life that I live today is a far cry from how it was ten years ago. I was a second grader who wanted nothing to do with this so called “club”. I felt alienated and in result misbehaved, desperately seeking attention. I once remember, sprinting out of the Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch just to cause commotion. When the staff sat down and tried a different approach to handling me, I slowly began to feel secure and change my ways. I began to think positively and appreciate the Boys & Girls Club for what it had to offer.
It soon became that place where I could be accepted. Not long after, I moved to a new school and a new Boys & Girls Club, the Rose Lane Branch. My first day at Rose Lane, I was determined to have a fresh, positive start with a new attitude. I immersed myself into all the programs the club had to offer. One program in particular was Smart Girls. It taught me to have confidence in myself and embrace the woman I am becoming.
The more programs that I participated in; the more I discovered my love for the club. I realized how being an individual did not mean being an outsider.
I finally had people who understood and believed in me.
I am glad that I had role models to help me through my struggles and I can honestly say that without them, I would still be that misinterpreted, vulnerable seven-year-old.
Instead, today I am a young person committed to do her best, an upcoming college student at the Arizona State University, Barrett Honors College but most of all a courageous individual who is determined to succeed despite the odds of any given situation. This would not be possible without the help Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. Gracias…Thank you.