Recently, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake had a hard decision to make: choosing their next Youth of the Year (YOTY). The Carbon County Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake made their own personal nomination for the YOTY when they chose club member Paul Spooner.
Spooner is a resident of the area and a senior in high school. Generally, the candidate chosen for the YOTY is either a junior or senior, meaning that Spooner was just inside the window to be chosen. Club Director Olivia Dudding stated that Spooner was chosen to represent the local chapter of the club due being so involved.
Reflecting on the experience as a candidate for the position, Spooner stated that first he and Dudding visited the Boys & Girls Club in Salt Lake City with the five other participants. Each was given a three minute or less window to deliver a personal speech. Spooner’s touched on his personal struggles growing up and the obstacles he has faced. He stated that nothing stuck with him to change his life until he found the Boys & Girls Club.
He also spoke of feeling like he belonged somewhere when he found the club. In conclusion, Spooner ended his speech in saying that his race is not over and he knows that he will not run it alone. Following the speeches, the participants were fed lunch and taken into a conference rooms to answer questions in a personal environment.
Once the judging had commenced, the candidates were allowed to go their separate ways for a brief time. Spooner and Dudding took the time to visit the other Boys & Girls clubs in the area to see how they worked and look at new ideas for their club. Afterward, they were welcomed to the Hilton in downtown Salt Lake for the awards dinner.
Each participant was asked to give their speech once more. There was also a guest speaker that touched on his life and how the club helped him as well. While Spooner was not chosen as the YOTY (the member chosen is from the Sugarhouse Boys & Girls Club), he was given $1,000 in scholarship money that he is free to use wherever he would like.
Dudding stated that the competition was very stiff and each candidate was superb; it could have been anyone’s night. Dudding also spoke on how proud she is in Spooner and all he does to represent the club and continue to be a role model to the youth in the community. Though Spooner has experienced a lot in his life, he has been able to use resources around him to make the most out of opportunities.
“I cannot tell you how proud I am of Paul. I think he represented us so well,” Dudding said.
Though Spooner is reaching the end of his high school years, he stated that he wishes to volunteer at the club upon graduation and possibly work there to give back in whatever way possible.