Ava Tolcacher became the second Prosser Boys & Girls Club member in as many years to earn the title of Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.
As part of her journey, Ava enjoyed attending our first annual Youth of Year retreat at White Pass. Together with Brenna Cherry, who at the time was the reigning State Youth of the Year, and Eddie Corona, who was the Kennewick Youth of the Year, the teens spent a weekend with senior staff and Branch Directors from the Club working on their speeches, interview skills, goal setting, and just having fun. It was a tremendously close competition following the retreat, as both Ava, and Corona, gained valuable skills that served them well, and put those skills into practice the following week during the competition.
There could be just one Youth of the Year from Benton and Franklin Counties though, and on January 31, 2013, Ava earned the crown in front of more than 200 supporters at the Great Day for Kids dinner. Preparation of Ava for the State Youth of the Year competition in late March would continue up until the day of departure, with Ava speaking at City Council meetings, Prosser Rotary, Prosser Kiwanis, Board Meetings and anywhere else that she could get into. Brenna served as her mentor along the way, and when they set out for Seattle on a beautiful March afternoon, all the kids were excited about what was to come next.
That Wednesday morning, after a quick nights sleep, the ensemble went to the Governor's mansion where Brenna emceed the breakfast program and the Governor's Community Service Award and Scholarship were announced. As the candidate credentials were being read, staff and members alike thought it was going to Ava, but instead the award went to a very deserving member from Spokane. The rest of that day would be a flurry of activity that included a special lunch at Ivar's at the waterfront with a top Seattle entrepreneur, a media training at KeyBank, and a motivational session with the 9th best public speaker in the world. The kids were then taken around Seattle in a limo and enjoyed time at the Space Needle, Gameworks and Dick's Drive-in. Somehow, they also managed to find time to make this fun video:
Thursday was the big day, but by now the Youth's, representing nearly 80,000 Club members from all across Washington State, had already become like family and the edge of competition was off; in its place was support, camaraderie, and a sense of being a part of something special. By the time the announcements came during the dinner, everyone realized that any and all of the names would be a worthy representative of the Washington State. While she represented Prosser and our area with maturity, respect, and integrity, Ava would not follow in Brenna's footsteps as the Washington State Youth of the Year. We congratulate Karlee Cossette, from the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound for earning that honor.
We are all quite proud of our Ava Tolcacher. Her growth during this process was a special thing to witness, and we are delighted that she will continue to serve as our Club's ambassador through next year as she prepares to attend Washington State University in her quest to obtain a degree in Psychology.