A young woman who ascribes the Boys & Girls Club as the catalyst of hope and self-discovery after the loss of her mother was named Central Wyoming’s Youth of the Year for 2020-21. The announcement was made at the 22nd Annual Awards and Recognition breakfast held on October 21st, 2020. A sophomore at Roosevelt High School, Jinnie Ponder won a $5,000.00 Ruth R. Ellbogen Education Award, along with the chance to compete at the state level in February.
For Jinnie a family tragedy seemed to put a pause on her future. She didn’t know who she was without her mom and pulled away from activities she once enjoyed. Jinnie says the bond between her and her father kept them going. It was when Jinnie attended the Boys & Girls Club that she re-discovered past interests, like love for art, and grew from a wallflower into a leader with courage, confidence, and empathy.
“For a while, I only saw loss in the world, but as I grew older I realized with every loss an opportunity opened up,” said Jinnie, “The Club is where I started to grow; it’s the place that inspired me to take control of my life. It would be hard to imagine what would have happened to this shy motherless girl without the Club, but my life is on a new path of being an independent, creative independent leader, with goals and dreams that are truly possible with my mom in my heart.”
Jinnie wants to utilize her love for the arts to become an illustrator.
Julie Dysart, junior at Natrona County High School, Kaleb Dysart, senior at Natrona County High School, and Peyton Goetz, sophomore at Kelly Walsh High School, each received a $500 Ruth R. Ellbogen Education Award as finalists.
Established in 1947, Youth of the Year is BGCA’s premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community, and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability. The program is used as a year-round tool for fostering young people’s character, personal growth, and leadership qualities. Contestants are judged in several categories presented in written essays, oral speech, and live interviews.
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