The words of a brave 16-year-old woman brought tears to the eyes of attendees at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nash/Edgecombe Counties annual Youth of the Year luncheon.
Destiny Styles explained that she resented her mother for making her attend the club, but grew to look forward to her time there.
She said it took hard work to grow into the “respectable, responsible young lady” who was selected as the 2012 Youth of the Year. One counselor in particular was supportive when the teenager revealed a childhood rape was the root of her anger and frustration, she said.
“He helped me make a decision. Mr. Will helped me decide whether or not to live my life on my own or to let this one unforgettable event live it for me,” Styles said.
She said she learned to move beyond the childhood betrayal and excel. Now she aspires to study veterinary medicine after graduating Rocky Mount High School.
Several other Youth of the Year nominees shared how their experiences at the Boys and Girls Clubs helped them through major life events and changed their lives.
“Boys and Girls Club offered so many opportunities for me and my family,” nominee Alexus Farmer said. “It also put a mark on my heart, and I will never forget the Boys and Girls Club as long as I live.”
Nominee Rosella Campbell said the organization helped bring the shy teenager out of her shell and learn to express herself.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from or what people think about you, you can show them that you can make it and achieve your goals,” she said.
Styles said she is excited to compete in a state competition with Youth of the Year winners from Boys and Girls Clubs from across the state.
The event was not just for the high school-aged members, though. Five Junior Youth of the Year finalists were recognized at the luncheon before Samaria Becker was named the winner of the junior competition — an honor she said was surreal.
“You are all high achievers and are an inspiration to us all,” said Catherine Combs, the mistress of ceremonies for the event.