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West High School junior McGhee named Youth of the Year

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – For West High School junior Tai McGhee – this year’s Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay’s Youth of the Year award winner – working hard to achieve a goal is nothing new.

Raised by his grandmother and single mother, who worked three jobs to provide for him and his three older brothers, McGhee grew up with a foundation of work ethic and respect.

“Growing up in an area where I sometimes felt different, because of my appearance, or our financial struggles, my mother taught me how to be strong and to not care about others’ negative perception of yourself,” McGhee said. “She taught me how to always be respectful, of my elders and to people in general. ‘Sir’ and ‘ma’am’ are common greetings that have been instilled in me since I was little.”

He was chosen as this year’s Youth of the Year award recipient, the highest honor bestowed upon a club member, at the red carpet themed event Thursday Dec. 12 at Titletown Event Hall.

“Being chosen as this year’s Youth of the Year will give me the chance to go to the next level,” McGhee said.

He was one of six nominees, all mentored by a club staff member during the competition.

As the winner, McGhee was awarded a $1,500 college scholarship, and will represent the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay at the statewide Boys & Girls Club competition in the spring.

E’Lajah Lindsey from Ashwaubenon High School took second place, while Angel Villegas from Preble High School took third place.

Other nominees included Kevin Treadway of NEW School of Innovation, and Ja’Mayah Booth and Kiearra Hawkins of Green Bay West High School.

McGhee was chosen based partly on his individual interviews with guest judges and his speech presentation which included details about how his club experiences helped shape who he is today and his dreams for the future.

He has been a club member since he was in sixth grade and active in the club’s Keystone leadership group.

“Keystone helped me find the leader I always knew I could be,” McGhee said. “We helped out in the community. For example, we went to homeless shelters and gave out food. We went to elderly homes and played games with them just to see them smile. We cleaned parks and read stories to the younger club members at our club. All these things taught me empathy, patience and communication and acknowledging that someone might have it worse than me.”

Christina Thor, communications and development director for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, said the Youth of the Year event is a way to build a future for the community and foster a new generation of leaders.

“As these teens come to the club, we let them take the stage and help them open doors of opportunities to achieve a path for success,” Thor said. “Through our Youth of the Year event, we get to see our club’s mission come to life with our teens, as we continue building an exciting workforce, a city full of young leaders and a healthy community.”

While McGhee isn’t sure of where the future may take him, he hopes to do to others what the club did for him.

“The club helped mold me into the young man I am today,” he said. “Not only me, but I’ve seen it help so many others in the years that I’ve been a member. I would like to return the favor. I will be a positive role model to those around me, and I have the amazing Boys & Girls Club staff and community to thank for it.”

This year’s guest judges included Dean Stewart, executive director of the Center for Exceptional Leadership of St. Norbert College and the club’s incoming board president; Jennifer Parks-Tigert, career services manager of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College; Mai Lo Lee, director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; and Doug Kohlbeck, senior vice president of Associated Bank and the club’s current board president.

For more information about the club, contact Thor at [email protected].

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