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B&GCBI Youth of the Year Banquet set for March 7

Celebrating service to club and community, the Boys &Girls Club of the Big Island (B&GCBI) will honor outstanding adult and youth members of its ohana at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the club’s second annual Youth of the Year Banquet at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.

“The Youth of the Year program is B&GCBI’s premier youth recognition program for club members. All members can benefit from participation in this program, which promotes and celebrates service to club, community and family, academic performance, moral character, life goals and poise and public speaking ability,” said Executive Director Zavi Brees-Saunders.

The three finalists for Youth of the Year are 14-year-olds Benjamin Cortez Jr., a student at Hilo Intermediate School, and Hilo High School students Jenasay Namba and Tyler Nahinu.

“Along with awarding the Youth of the Year, we will be honoring two community members who have been instrumental in our local club’s success with Big Island youth, Patsy Tamashiro and Ivan Nakano,” said Brees-Saunders.

Tamashiro — aka “The Den Mother” — started working at the Hilo Boys Club in 1958 at the bayfront facility where the soccer fields are now located.

This facility was destroyed in the 1960 tsunami and the Boys Club moved up the hill to its current location off of Haili Street.

Tamashiro took care of the club and its boys until 2000, when the organization transitioned to the Boys &Girls Club of the Big Island.

“Highlights for her were feeding the boys from the snack bar and getting to know everyone who spent time in the club. With over 40 years of mentoring Hilo boys, her impact on the Hilo community has been tremendous,” said Brees-Saunders.

Nakano played Pony Baseball in ninth grade, when Tamashiro was at the club.

Retaining many fond childhood memories, Nakano became a member of the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Hilo as it transitioned from the Boys Club of Hilo in 1989.

He remained a board member until 1997, when he took a short break, rejoining in 2000.

“Ivan was instrumental in keeping the doors of the club open, and then incorporating the reorganized Boys &Girls Club of the Big Island that we know today,” said Brees-Saunders.

Nakano served as chief volunteer officer from 2000 until June 2004.

He serves on a multitude of boards and committees in the community and says with a smile his “favorite” is the Big Island Golf Club.

“Without Ivan Nakano, the Boys &Girls Club of the Big Island would not be what it is today,” said Brees-Saunders.

At the March 7 banquet, join in a fun tribute to Tamashiro and Nakano, and find out who this year’s Youth of the Year winner is.

The Big Island winner will move on to statewide competition later in the month and receive a $1,000 scholarship.

State winners, who each receive $2,000 scholarships, participate in regional competitions, and five regional winners each receive an engraved plaque and a scholarship award of $10,000.

Finally, regional winners compete for the coveted national Youth of the Year title, a $15,000 scholarship and formal recognition by President Obama.

For more information, visit, call 961-5536 or email

Tickets for the banquet cost $75, which includes dinner, entertainment, silent and live auctions. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended, as seating is limited.


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