Boys and Girls Club names 2017 Youth of the Year

The Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield started the month of March hosting its third Annual Leadership Dinner and Youth of the Year Night at the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury.

The dinner honored the club’s character and leadership program members in Gem Club (for fifth grade members), Torch Club (for middle school members) and Keystone Club (for high school members), and individually recognized members for their commitment and achievements.

The dinner concluded with crowning the 2017 Youth of the Year — the club’s biggest annual award.

Catalina Carmona, named the 2017 Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club of Ridgefield, was selected among nine local outstanding youth.

A committee of local community leaders interviewed all of the candidates and worked with the professional staff to select the Youth of the Year. Judges included Rudy Marconi, First Selectman; Patricia Raneri, East Ridge Middle School Principal; David A. Schneider, Chief Executive Officer of Fairfield County Bank, MHC; and Denise Qualey, Managing Director at Kids In Crisis.

As the club’s Youth of the Year, Catalina, a Ridgefield High School junior and longtime club member, will receive the Club’s Ralph B. Crouchley $1,500 college scholarship.

“Catalina is a true example of a commendable young woman recognized for her outstanding contributions to her family, school, community and our Club, as well as for overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. The Youth of the Year program encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities, and Catalina is a shining example of this. We are so proud of her,” said Mike Flynn, Executive Director at the Boys and Girls Club.

Catalina has been attending the Boys and Girls Club since second grade, and has been an active member ever since, participating in every program the club offers. Catalina is best known for her countless hours of community service at the club, and has previously won the Be Great Member of the Year award, the Helping Hands award and the Youth Volunteer of the Year award for her endless commitment to the club.

Upon entering high school, Catalina has emerged as a leader and a role model for younger members. Catalina has participated in the club’s high school character and leadership program — the Keystone Club, the Leaders-In-Training program, and the junior staff program.

In the summer, Catalina is a key lifeguard and assistant coach for the club’s swim team program, and during the school year, she works as a junior staff member in the club’s homework room.

“The Boys and Girls Club will always be a home for me. It’s hard to imagine my life without the club. It’s a place of security — a safe haven — and a place where I was, and continue to be, accepted. The club staff and kids are my family,” said Catalina.

In May, Catalina will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members for the Connecticut Youth of the Year title and a $2,500 college scholarship. Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. Catalina is among hundreds of local Youth of the Year winners across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs. Noteworthy BGCR finalists for the 2017 Youth of the Year include: Sarah Armstrong, Stephanie Bittick, Christopher Cozens, Catherine D’Jay, Colin Hughes, Sarah Furfaro, Colleen Keenan, and Mia Liu.