Joel Javier Named 2019 BGCL Youth of the Year

When Joel Javier was 13 years old, he says he didn't get good grades and was sometimes picked on due to his "awkwardness." His parents gave him a summer membership to the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, and to his relief, he quickly found a group of friends with common interests at the Clubhouse Network Computer Lab.

"The club changed me," said Javier, now a senior at Greater Lawrence Technical School and member of the honor roll or high honor roll for the last three years. "The staff taught me how it is okay to be who you are, and how I do not need to have everyone like me in order to do so. You can't be someone if no one was there to help build you up."

Javier, who is widely recognized at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence as a role model for younger youth members, was recently selected as the 2019 Youth of the Year. Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is the Boys & Girls Club of America's premiere recognition program for club members 14 to 18 years old, promoting values of leadership and service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. The nominees, all of whom exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives on young people, progress from their local club to the state, regional and national levels. The National Youth of the Year, who is installed by the President of the United States, serves as an exemplary ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth and a strong voice for all of the nation's young people.

Samantha Sullivan, a club board member who served on the Youth of the Year Selection Committee, said the panel was impressed with Javier's maturity and civic-minded outlook. Five candidates were evaluated based on interviews, grades, club and community activities and multiple essays.

"It was a very difficult task to select a winner from this group of extraordinary applicants," Sullivan said. "It was great to hear their stories about the positive impact the club has made on all of their lives."

Javier said it "means the world to me" to be selected as Youth of the Year. "I'm really honored to be chosen by this club which shaped me as a person and helped me grow up."

In fact, Javier credits his involvement with the Clubhouse Network Computer Lab with his decision to apply to Greater Lawrence Technical School, where his major course of study is information technology. He is also treasurer of the Keystone Club, a service group for high school-aged youth members which helps serve supper to younger club kids, cleans up around the club and assists staff in various capacities.

In addition, Javier teaches coding in the Clubhouse Network Computer Lab, travels to peer leadership conferences throughout country, has participated in the Highland Street Foundation Youth Philanthropy Initiative and maintains a healthy lifestyle, as taught by the club.


Ultimately, Javier aspires to study information technology in college. In the meantime, he intends to continue setting an example for younger youth members while progressing as far as possible in the Youth of the Year competition.

"I am forever grateful for what the club has done for me, and for the friends I made there," Javier said.