“Growing up in the club was kind of like being a part of a second family,” Ben-Judah said. “I have known people like Beth [executive assistant] and Charlie [director] for most of my life.”
The three scholarship recipients each received $2,000 for the next year.
The first $1,000 will be sent to their respective schools for tuition in the fall. Each recipient must prove they maintained a grade point average of 2.75 or higher before receiving the second $1,000. The board decided to award each recipient an additional $500 for books, as well.
Ben-Judah began attending the Lay Street Unit when she was 5.
“Dara was one of those kids who started coming as a child and continued through high school,” Beth Kinsey, executive assistant to the Cleveland Boys and Girls Club, said. “Then she worked for us before going away to college.”
Ben-Judah initially attended Vanderbilt before transferring to Lee University. She is currently a psychology major with a minor in child and family studies.
“I come from a really big family [14 siblings] and I have always been surrounded by children,” Ben-Judah said. “I was an aunt before I was born.”
Added Ben-Judah, “A lot of kids are looking for adult role models or love and attention...I really have this desire to help these children and show them there are other people who will treat them differently and help them.”
According to Ben-Judah, what makes the club special are the workers.
“The staff definitely had the biggest impact on me. I do not necessarily remember all of the programs Beth ran, but I do remember Beth,” Ben-Judah said. “Even though I may not remember specific lessons, as a whole, it impacted me— even though I did not realize it at the time.”
Gombash became a member when she was about 6-years-old. She stopped attending during middle school after making lasting memories and a best friend.
“My dad has a ministry called Catch that keeps me involved with the Boys and Girls Club,” Gombash said.
Kinsey said Gombash helps out every Christmas with her dad’s Catch the Spirit dinner for the less fortunate. Gombash said it was a time to volunteer and hang with the kids.
“Being a part of the Boys and Girls Club taught me you can achieve anything,” Gombash said. “I have always wanted to be a teacher and the club believed in that dream.”
She will enter her second year as an elementary education major at Cleveland State Community College this fall.
“Just do it,” Gombash said of anyone interested in joining as a member.
Cameron Carr, the third scholarship recipient, will also be a sophomore this fall at Cleveland State. He is currently working at Whirlpool and is majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I have always enjoyed working with my hands,” Carr said. “When I attended Cleveland High School, I was in a bike competition where my team had to build a bike. We had to do everything, including welding.”
Kinasey said she has known Carr since he began attending the Boys and Girls Club around the age of 10. Carr attended the Boys and Girls Club at Cleveland State before being hired on in 2006.
“I loved CC as a kid and I loved him as a part of the staff. The awesome thing about Cameron is he is working at Whirlpool and looking to pursue higher education, as well,” Kinsey said.
Carr said he would like to work with either Whirlpool or Volkswagen when he completes his degree.
All three recipients have received the scholarship in the past. Kinsey pointed out the Cooke family of Cooke’s Food Store in Cleveland contribute a large sum of money each year toward the scholarship. Carr said of the scholarship, “Thank you for the opportunity. Pursing further education is hard to get to do these days.”