Meet our Honorees
Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be the Youth of the Year, serving as an ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth as well as a voice for all of our nation’s young people. Over the year, these individuals have exemplified the Boys & Girls Club mission and are proof to the impact Clubs make in transforming and saving kids’ lives.
Sonny Callahan Branch
After having been selected as the Sonny Callahan Boys & Girls Club’s 2017 Youth of the Year, Jakobie Forrest decided to wait out the next two years because he “…wanted to allow my peers the same opportunity. I had had the experience already, and it was time for others to experience being Youth of the Year.” Such consideration of others is only one of the reasons Jakobie was selected as BGCSA’s organizational 2020 Youth of the Year.
During his seven years as a Boys & Girl Club member, Jakobie served as President of the Keystone Club, was a member of the Job Ready crew, and facilitated several community service projects for the Club. He became known as a mentor to younger members, and for his willingness to always lend a hand whenever needed, without being asked to do so.
Jakobie was also a member of the Southwest Mobile Chamber of Commerce’s T.A.L.L. Leadership Academy, and volunteered with Keep Mobile Beautiful, the Ronald McDonald House and Feeding the Gulf Coast. He was recognized for his recruitment of teen volunteers for the Great American Clean-up.
Jakobie graduated from Theodore High School with a 4.03 GPA and was ranked 32nd out of a class of 321. He was elected Mr. THS, was a member of the Student Council, and a member of Future Business Leaders of America. He served as Treasurer of the National Honor Society, and won awards for perfect attendance and academic achievement. He will be entering Alabama A&M College this Fall to pursue a degree in Business.
“Life is all about what matters to you, because if nothing matters then there is nothing to live for. And the things that matter the most to me are my reputation, love and leadership.”…..Jakobie Forrest
Bernard Malkove Branch
Reflecting back on her first day at the Bernard Malkove/Cody Road Boys & Girls Club, Alyssa Vann talks about how she felt “intimidated….and thought about never coming back.” But fortunately her mother was firm in her own commitment for positive things to happen in her daughter’s life, and so Alyssa returned the next day to begin her six-year journey as a BGC member.
Feelings of frustration, rebelliousness and negativity at having to attend what she first saw as “just a daycare center,” as well as anxiety about some family issues, would eventually dissolve as Alyssa soon came to view the Club as a “bright, happy place.” She states that “Growth was one of the most important things about my Club experience, and through that growth I learned that I have a talent which is leadership.”
That talent for leadership is evident in Alyssa’s many accomplishments. She has served as leader of both the Torch Club and the Keystone Club, as the Club’s UPS Road Code Ambassador, and a “No Limits Girls’ Aviation Program team leader. Alyssa also founded a new program, Sister Code, with the mission to mentor middle school girls.
During the past year, Alyssa became a full-time staff member of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama, and as such continues to lead and inspire her peers and younger members. She recently finished at Baker High School with a 3.5 GPA, and will attend Alabama A&M University to pursue a major in Business Management and a minor in Project Management.
“I want youth to know that no matter what you have been through, or are going through, you can overcome all of it. The community you grew up in, the people you grew up around, and your family’s history, does not determine your future. Do not be confined. Pop your own bubble.”…….Alyssa Vann
Noah believes one should join the Optimist Boys & Girls Club for the diversity, opportunities and experiences it provides, and credits his Club journey for helping him to move from being a “shy, private person into an outgoing leader and role model.” Noah’s selection as his Club’s Youth of the Year for two consecutive years reflect how much he has taken advantage of those opportunities and experiences.
BGCSA’s Job Ready program provided Noah with his first job, and the chance to develop a good work ethic and social skills. Working at the Club’s annual Optimist Christmas Tree Lot helped him refine his customer relations skills. He is currently serving as Keystone Club president, and is a member of the Gavel Club and Omega Lamplighters. Assisting with writing the Club newsletter, attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Camp, learning to swim, and the chance to travel to national BGC youth events are unique chances which Noah views as having made him a more social, well-rounded person.
Noah is an active member of Destiny Vision Christian Center where he is a member of the sound and media team. In 2018 he was the recipient of an award from P.U.S.H., Inc., a local mentoring group, for his school and civic involvement. Upon graduation from Grace Bible College in May, 2021 Noah plans to attend UAB to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering.
“I want my story to be one of empowering and motivating others to keep persevering through any obstacle. Staying motivated, focused and prayed up are the keys to my success and can be to others as well.” —- Noah Mingo
As a five-year member of the Semmes Boys & Girls Club, Madison Durggins considers her Club as a “second home” where she and her friends have grown together and become close friends. According to Madison, her special network of Club friends study together, volunteer together and encourage one another to achieve and be their very best.
Madison is treasurer of the Keystone Club and has helped to plan #WeOwnFriday teen nights. She has also volunteered at the Semmes All Class Reunion event held at the Club, and at the Annual Christmas Tree fundraiser sponsored by Pathway Church.
Madison is a rising junior at Mary G. Montgomery High school where she has earned a 3.78 GPA and is ranked in the upper 10% of her class. She is a member of Future Business Leaders of America and is considered as an outstanding, active member of the Leadership Program. As a leadership student she has hosted and organized pep rallies, fundraising events and a blood drive for Life South. After graduation in 2022, Madison plans to attend Alabama State University and major in Education and Social Work.
“I will use my voice to ensure that I am heard. My voice is meant to be heard, but many youth today feel as though they have no voice. I want to be the drum major and the champion for change.” — Madison Durggins
Brandon McCall often tells about experiencing anxiety and low self-esteem when he was younger, but as a result of his twelve years as a member of the Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club he now confidently describes himself as a “determined, empathetic and inspiring leader.”
According to Brandon, self-confidence, dealing with hardships and empowerment are just a few of the skills he learned as a BGC member. He now uses these skills to help other young people face their own feelings of negativity and peer pressure. “When my friends come to me with their issues, I try my best to brighten their day and encourage them to keep going, and to better themselves,” says Brandon.
At the Kiwanis BGC, Brandon is Vice-President of the Keystone Club, is a liaison with the Torch Club, and has organized #WeOwnFridays teen events and community cleanups. Currently a junior at John LeFlore High School’s Law & Public Safety Signature Academy, Brandon has a 3.40 GPA and is ranked tenth in his class. He previously served as President of his homeroom. Brandon is active in his church where he serves as an Usher.
When he graduates in May of 2022, Brandon plans to study for a degree in Psychology at Morehouse College, and to pursue a career as a children’s therapist.
“It’s our job to lift up each other and empower one another. We are people of the present and the future.” —- Brandon McCall