Boys & Girls Club 2023 Awards Night Sparkles: GHS 11 Grader is Youth of the Year

On Tuesday night the Boys & Girls Club held its annual awards night to a record crowd of over 400.

Club CEO Cristina Vittoria said the event was the 55th annual Youth of the Year Award program, but she noted that it wasn’t until 2017 that the Club decided to hold a dinner to celebrate exceptional Club members and honor outstanding volunteers as Champions of Youth.

Vittoria said that over 2,000 youth walk through the Club doors every year. Over 300 kids attend after school and evening enrichment programs every day. Last summer they served almost 700 children at their three summer camps.

“Our staff believes that every child who walks through our door matters, and every child deserves opportunities to be great,” Vittoria said.

Boys & Girls Club Chief Executive Officer Cristina Vittoria welcomed the full house to the 2023 Awards Ceremony. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Education & Volunteer Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club, Deelia Wadsworth with 2023 Youth of the Year Recipient Jada Brewington. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

The entire Club community honored Jada Brewington, who was one of six candidates considered for the honor of 2023 Youth of the Year. Jada is a Junior at Greenwich High School.

Jada’s summed up her Club experience in one word: Eventful.

“The Boys & Girls Club has always been there when I needed it most,” she said, adding that for years she looked forward to sitting on the floor of Deelia Wadsworth’s office for hours.

“Every child has that point in their life where they just need to be heard,” Jada said. “It can be the smallest inconvenience or something major happening in their personal life and she was there through it all…For her I am so thankful.”

“After being a member of the Club for 10 years, I was given the experience of seeing the Club through the eyes of a part-time staff member,” she recalled. “What you tell people that you work with elementary school age children their first questions are, How do you do it? How do you stand the mess, the noise and the chaos?'”

“What people don’t understand is, there comes a point in time in your life you do it for the kids,” she noted, adding that as a camp counselor she drew close to the children and had a heightened sense of responsibility.

“To these kids I was more than just a staff member. I was authority figure, a role model. They came to me when they needed help…It really felt great to provide that same support that I had needed.”

The other nominees were Omar Badr, Nargis Hussaini, Jake Phillips, Dina Quevedo and Jesse Sanchez. All the Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich. Winners go on to vie for the Connecticut Youth of the Year title and then participate in a regional and national competition.

The inaugural David Ogilvy Award for Character, Kindness & Integrity was presented by Anne Ogilvy and Club VP of Programs & Youth Development, Don Palmer to Alex Flook.

“Words I would use to describe Alex are friendly, outgoing, caring, role model, and a great big brother. He is someone who cares deeply about his Club and community, just like David,” said Don Palmer, VP of Programs.

Alex Flook, a member of the GHS class of 2024 was the recipient of the Inaugural David Ogilvy Award. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
2023 Junior Youth of the Year award recipient was Taylor Tejada, an 8th grader at Western Middle School. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

The Junior Youth of the Year Award went to Taylor Tejeda, who is an 8th graders at Western Middle School.

He is is a dedicated Torch Club member and current President. He participates in academic and athletic programs, including Passport to Manhood, Junior Barracudas swim team, Intro to Coding, Rugby and Stem to Stern.

Also honored where this year’s Champions of Youth Jannell Bakrow and Annette Wilson. The Champion of Youth award is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich supporter can achieve. They had big shoes to fill; the winner last year was Donald Palmer.

Jannell Bakrow joined Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich’s Board in 1995 with her main initiative to develop revenue generating programs to supplement the programs for the Club members. In addition to serving on the Executive Board, Bakrow co-chaired the September Benefit in 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004, with her favorite event being the Recycled Gift Boutique and Holiday Party which she has been involved in since its inception in 2008.

An active volunteer and board member at numerous non-profits in town, it is Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich which has called to Annette Wilson the most. Wilson served on the BGCG Executive Board and wore many hats, including chairing the September Benefit, developing revenue producing programs, acting as the Financial and Development Committee chair, and co-chairing the 2003 Construction committee.

State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151), State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150), US Senator Richard Blumenthal, with 2023 Champions of Youth Jannell Bakrow and Annette Wilson, and Youth of the Year Recipient Jada Brewington, a member of the GHS Class of 2024. Photo: Leslie Yager
US Senator Richard Blumenthal shared remarks as State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150) looked on. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Rep (D-150), Corey Paris (D-145) and State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151) at the Boys & girls Club Awards Ceremony. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Boys & Girls Club Honor Guard opened the ceremony and led the Pledge of Allegiance. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano, who was a former Club Youth of the Year, with Greenwich Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh and Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Paula and Hector Arzeno with Garfield Charles who was recently named Program Administrator for Greenwich Schools Windrose Program. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151), Larry Lawrence and former Boys & Girls Club executive director Bobby Walker Jr, who is now Assistant Head of School for Student and Community Life at Greenwich Academy. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich Fire Dept Chief Joseph McHugh, Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan and Club Vice President of Programs & Youth Development Don Palmer. April 4, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager