“Before joining the Club, I can say I was lost,” explained Joseph Davis. “I was getting into a lot of trouble. It was just me and my brother and I didn’t care about anything else.”
At the age of 13, Joseph was contemplating dropping out of school. With no father-figure present, he was forced to become the man of his household at a very young age. Even though he tried hard to keep his younger brother out of trouble, Joseph struggled to stay on the right path himself. Despite his desire to become a better man than what he felt his father was to him, deep down he believed that he would be nothing more than a product of his environment.
Until, one day, his mother enrolled him in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida’s TEAM UP program at the Southside Middle School. They didn’t know it then, but this one act would change the course of Joseph’s life. His Unit Director, Ms. Green, encouraged him to start participating in the Club’s activities. His experience at his first BGCNF event helped him realize that he was capable of being more than he had ever imagined.
“It was the Taco Bell Graduate program between the Beaches Club and the Southside Middle TEAM-UP. Each group had to come up with their own business and try to sell it to earn money,” he stated. “Our business was an internet radio show and we won third place. It was the first time I stepped up to be a leader and felt responsible.”
In January 2012, 17 year-old Joseph was approached by Ms. Green to compete in the organization’s Youth of the Year competition. This is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive and recognizes Club members who have demonstrated exemplary character, superior leadership, notable academic achievement and outstanding service to their Club and the community.
With only a couple of weeks before the competition, the staff at Joseph’s Club, his family, and his friends all rallied behind to help him prepare. Not only did Joseph earn the prestigious title as the representative of Northeast Florida, he also received a $2,000 scholarship to attend college!
“It helped me feel accomplished. Like all the late nights and early mornings were worth it. It also impacted my personal life. My friends would see me on TV and they’d say ‘Wow, you’ve accomplished so much as a child.’ I feel really important and that’s why whenever the Boys & Girls Clubs asks me to do anything, it’s my top priority.”
Joseph credits the Boys & Girls Club for changing his entire outlook on life. “I learned how to care. I became more mature,” he proudly admitted. “It [the Club] helped me to set goals and helped me prepare. It showed me what I could be and showed me what I needed to do to get to where I want to be.”
Today, Joseph is a Youth Development Specialist at the Lee Boys & Girls Club and we are so proud to announce that he will be attending Florida State College at Jacksonville to study Early Childhood Management. He said it feels good to be a staff member of the organization that changed his life because he wants to “be Ms. Green to somebody else.”
When asked if he could encourage the youth he works with to be anything, what would that be, Joseph said, “Be determined because to do anything that I’ve done, you have to want to do it, think about doing it, and then, do it. No matter what.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida provides educational programs, enrichment activities, and sports programming in after school programs and summer camp for youth aged 5 to 18 in 14 area clubs located throughout Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. Our mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, visit our website at www.bgcnf.org.
Jasmine Dionne Souers | Development Assistant