Teen Member Zula's Speech - 2017 Great Futures Auction
Good evening ladies and gentlemen!
My name is Zula, I’m 16 years old, a junior at Capital Prep Harbor High school, and I'm a Wakeman club kid!
There are just a few things I want to share: I was born and raised in Jamaica. I came to America at 3, left at the age of 6, then returned permanently at 9 years old. I know right? That’s a lot of transitioning between two cultures. For that reason I found it difficult to find myself.
I started going to the club when I was in 7th grade. My middle school had just shut down due to reconstruction and I needed a place to go after school. My parents worked and wanted my little sister and me to be looked after. On my first day at Wakeman, I loved everything from the walls that were insulated with environmentally friendly materials to the teen lounge I was forbidden to hang out in, at least until I was a freshman in high school.
Wakeman clubs like Chic Chat and Girls’ Circle made a lasting impression on what I aspired to be, in terms of my maturity and personality, and my place as a woman in this world. In retrospect, Girls’ Circle was one of the best groups I’ve ever been a part of! I remember being slouched on the comfy couch in the teen lounge (that’s right, that ONE TIME I was allowed in the teen lounge) and I quickly sprung up because the program director read a poem that resonated with me. I could feel the love radiating from the other liked-minded girls in the room and it made me happy. The poem made me realize that girls could have their own manifesta and that I was ready to discover mine. Torch Club did the same thing for me by finding my voice. I learned I could be a female leader who is smart, beautiful and kind all at the same time. I could be all those things and more without being deemed bossy, conceited or any of those negative attributes.
If it weren’t for my mother constantly signing me up for every activity under the sun, I would not pride myself on being a club kid today. It means a great deal that her and my father have been so deeply invested in me finding my niche. I never did find my knack in art, dance, karate or the other activities my mom made me participate in when I was younger. I did, however, find excitement in the endless activities within the Boys and Girls Club. I became a leader in the clubhouse, because of Clubs like D2D, a college readiness program, and Keystone, the ultimate teen program that focuses on service and leadership development.
In Keystone I have the opportunity to plan events and take control of what happens in the clubhouse. Before the club, I didn’t even think people would listen to what I had to say. Now I can confidently share my thoughts without fear of judgement. I had the chance to be on a committee that planned the NorthEast regional conferences for Keystone and D2D. That gave me the leadership tools I knew I had within me on a grander scale.
Without my many experiences at Wakeman I would have never thought I could do half the things I have accomplished like traveling and meeting people from all walks of life, helping people in my community, or making lifelong friends. I cannot even fathom what life would be like without Wakeman. At one point my parents were thinking about moving and all my mind dwelled on was, “How will I get to Wakeman?” I wasn’t worried about me sharing a room with me preteen sister or how many square feet made up the house. I was set on being at the club. I always was and Always will be! So, I hope you got a sense of what Wakeman Boys & Girls Club means to me and what it can continue to do for myself and others because of your support. Thank you so much for listening to my club story.
Have a blessed night!