After experiencing the sudden loss of her mother, Milwaukee teen Beverly Jackson found herself balancing trying to keep her family intact while also remaining focused on her studies. She credits the stability she received from Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club, for continuously encouraging and uplifting her especially during the most difficult time of her life. Recently, Beverly was named the 2013 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
She was chosen for her long and outstanding record of service to her Club, community and school, commitment to her family, exemplifying positive moral character and her ability to overcome personal obstacles. In this role, she will serve as a Boys & Girls Clubs’ top youth ambassador and will share her story with other youths about how she deals with adversity while improving the lives of others.
Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. As Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities.
Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs. In March, Beverly will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members from across the state to become Wisconsin Youth of the Year and receive a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corporation.
“A lot of times we’re amazed by young people who like Beverly are highly successful. We don’t know of the all struggles they’ve faced on their path to victory,” says Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. “We are extremely proud of Beverly. She is a very accomplished young woman. Her story is one many children and adults can relate to and be inspired by.”
As the oldest of four children, Beverly knows how to keep a calm mind and how to make tough decisions in the face of life’s challenges. When her mother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in July 2011, Beverly’s world was shaken and tested. Her mother was the family’s bedrock. The cancer was severe and left her mother very ill.
Nearly four months after her diagnosis, Beverly’s mother passed away. With her characteristic calmness, Beverly was hands-on with the funeral arrangements. She wrote the obituary with her pastor, organized the funeral service and picked out her an outfit for her mother to be laid to rest.
In the midst of her grieving, Beverly wanted to help her brothers with their grief and keep them intact as a family. During the summer of 2012, all of her brothers had to move to South Bend, Indiana to live their father. Beverly remained in Milwaukee to finish high school but she found herself facing another challenge: homelessness. She lived from relative-to-relative. Through it all, Beverly found constant support from the adult staff at Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club where she had been a member since she was 8 years old. As a child, Beverly was active in a number of Club activities like Torch Club, a character development program for pre-teens. As a teenager she is involved in the community service oriented Keystone Club, Career Launch, Sista Pride – an initiative to cultivate leadership skills among teen girls and the Stein Scholars College Success Program.
Along with her Club involvement, Beverly is active in the community as part of Pebbles for Peace at Cardinal Stritch University, COA Youth & Family Center, Alpha & Omega, the Milwaukee Christian Center and through her church. She credits the Boys & Girls Clubs for providing her with stability, reminding her of the good times with her family and encouraging her to pursue her goals.
In addition to holding a 2.9 GPA at Ronald Regan High School, Beverly is president of its Student Council and sits on its P.A.T.H. Committee (Preparing, Advocating, Teaching, Helping). In addition, Beverly is in her second year serving on the Milwaukee Public School’s Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and is a student representative for the Milwaukee Board of School Directors.
In May, Beverly will graduate from high school. She plans to attend Marquette University and study to become a social worker. Her goal is to open two group homes: one for children who have lost a parent and the other for female teen parents. Beverly knows what it feels like to have no home and wants to help young people have a place that is safe, welcoming and will help them gain stability.
If Beverly wins at the state competition, she will compete for the title of Midwest Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware Brands, the recognition program’s national sponsor. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2013, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.