Desiree Kamelamela has been named the Boys &Girls Club of the Big Island’s Youth of the Year.
Kamelamela was among four teens competing to represent the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s Youth of the Year state competition. She is among hundreds of youth leaders across the country recognized for her character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community. Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive.
As Boys & Girls Club of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. The recognition program encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. These extraordinary young leaders are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
“The main reason I like being a part of Boys & Girls Club is because it keeps me safe and out of trouble. When I’m going through rough times or just need advice, I can always find a staff member who will listen to my problems or even help me find solutions to the situation. The staff has become like a family to me,” Kamelamela said.
Now, a junior at Hilo High School, Kameamela said Hilo Club staff had a significant role in helping her improve her grades from her freshman year through daily check-ins and homework support.
“I am not sure what I would have done or where I would have been right now without Holly (club leader). She helped me turn around,” she said.
Though Hana Wilbourn, BGCBI’s Youth of the Year finalist from Keaau Club, and Hilo Youth of the Year participants Jade Hashimoto and Marvin Hashimoto did not receive the local Youth of the Year title, each of them received $250 scholarships from an anonymous donor for their achievements and dedication to the program, club and community. All of them were recognized at the Shoot for the Stars Youth of the Year banquet on Feb. 8th at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. There was more than 140 community members that attended the event to honor the Youth of the Year participants, including Mayor Billy Kenoi.
The Boys & Girls Club would like thank Ka‘u Coffee Mill and Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co. for being the banquet’s presenting sponsor. Also, special thanks to KTA Super Stores for being a Lead sponsor. Last but not least, thank you to our Hero sponsors: Kadota Liquor and K’s Drive In, Big Island Toyota, and Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington, Harris.
Community Leaders Pauline Lutkenhouse and Edmund C. Olson was also recognized at the banquet for their commitment to youth development on the Big Island. The Millennium Award was presented to Pauline for her and her late husband’s history of support to the organization and their $135,000 contribution in the year 2000. The Jeremiah Milbank Award, a Boys & Girls Club of America award, was present to Olson for his $10,000 contribution to BGCBI’s 2011 It Just Take One annual campaign.
Kamelamela will represent the Big Island at the state competition on March 19 on Oahu. Along with receiving the local Youth of the Year title, she was also awarded a $1,000 education scholarship from Edmund C. Olson Trust.