The award came Monday night during the organization’s 47th annual meeting. Several nominees were named from each area club.
She has been accepted into the Governor’s School of Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville this summer and participates in soccer, track, school bands, Spanish Club, arts and crafts, student government, writing, the Anchor Club and the Beta Club.
A panel of seven local judges chose Shin based on several criteria, including home and family responsibilities, moral character and high moral standards, community activities, scholastic activities, service to the Boys & Girls Clubs, future life goals, having overcome obstacles in life, poise and public speaking. She also wrote two essays as part of the process: one on what the Boys & Girls Clubs means to her and the other explaining why education after high school is important.
According to Shin’s essay on why the Boys & Girls Clubs is important to her, she wrote, “The staff here gives hope to those who don’t even know that they need it. They help those who don’t know how to ask for it. Many times when I didn’t even know that I was struggling, the Boys & Girls Clubs was behind helping me to stand. The Boys & Girls Clubs is a safe haven for many people who have lost their way.”
Because of a previous commitment in Nashville working with the organization Health Occupations Students of America, Shin could not appear at the meeting in person but instead appeared in a prerecorded video, thanking and addressing the gathered crowd.
She told the crowd she had been coming to the Boys & Girls Clubs since she was in sixth grade. She is the oldest of three children. Her brother has cerebral palsy. Shin said she took on the role of a nurturing family member and has also become his tutor and a secondary caregiver.
“Don’t get me wrong, though, my siblings and I still fight like every other sister with a pesky little brother and sister,” she said jokingly.
On the serious side, however, she became involved in a myriad of activities through her involvement with Boys & Girls Clubs, such as Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, being a Keystone vice president, teaching “Money Matters” and “Smart Moves,” writing grants and newspaper articles, and even helping the IT director build computers, plus so much more.
“This is only a part of what I could give back to a club that has given me so much more,” she said. Shin came from a broken home around the time she was in fifth grade. A few years after her dad moved to Korea to make a better life for her mom and brother and sister, her parents got divorced. That same year, Shin found out about a paying summer job program at the club. Without this program, she doesn’t know how her family would have survived that summer and their severely lowered income.
So this was the beginning of Shin’s continued involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“This is only one of the many times the people at the Boys & Girls Clubs have been there for me. The incredible staff at my club shows me genuine concern with respectful honor to the type of person I am. They pulled me out of my shell and helped me to see that I am a person of worth. They continue to stand by me, support me and encourage me to move forward in my future ... ‘Great Futures Start Here’ (the motto for the Boys & Girls Clubs) couldn’t ring more true today. I am proud to be a part of an organization such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.”
Shin will now go to Nashville to compete at the state level, and, if she wins there, to the Regional level in Atlanta, and then possibly to the national level in Washington, D.C.
Runner-up for the 2011 Youth of the Year, Tony Reynolds, 18 and a senior at Cleveland High School, will also attend the state competitions. He also addressed those attending the annual meeting.
“Boys & Girls Clubs is a very special place,” Reynolds said. “It’s for all kids. They can join fun activities, get fit, use computers, do their homework, learn arts and crafts, play video games, etc. It helped me stay in school and get good grades and help other kids at the same time.”
More than 3,000 other students between the ages of 6 to 18 also are part of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Some of the basic individual goals for Boys & Girls Clubs members include graduating high school, leading a healthy life and becoming a good citizen, said Charles Sutton, executive director.
For more information, call the Tucker Unit at 385 3rd St. S.W. at 472-6826 or check out the website www.boysandgirlsclubs.info.