Orlando Jones, a 3-year member of the Boys and Girls Club of Phillips County, has been named the Youth of the Year for the state of Arkansas by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). In addition to winning this prestigious title, Jones will also receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He is among hundreds of Youth of the Year winners across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for his sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome. This program was founded over 60 years ago through the generosity of the Reader’s Digest Foundation.

“The Reader’s Digest Foundation has been the proud sponsor of the Youth of the Year program since 1947,” said Susan Fraysse Russ, executive director, Reader’s Digest Foundation. “For over 60 years, we have had the great honor of saluting amazing teens, like Orlando Jones, for their dedication to their families, Club, community, and their academic and career goals.”

Jones is very active in his local Boys and Girls Club. He serves as president of the Blues Keystone Club, assists younger members with homework in the Robert F. and Maude Caine Howe Learning Center, leads a reading program aimed at younger members and assists in the Dr. Mosler Kahn Café. He is also active in school serving as the Quiz Bowl team captain, tenor section leader of the school choir and member of student council.

“Orlando and all Youth of the Year nominees are living proof that Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are fulfilling their mission of inspiring and enabling young people,” said Roxanne Spillett, president, BGCA. “We are most appreciative to the Reader’s Digest Foundation for their long-time support of our Youth of the Year program and for helping Club members attain their goals.”
This summer, Jones will compete against other youth from states located in BGCA’s Southwest Region. If named regional winner, he will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship and advance to the national competition in Washington. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 college scholarship and will be installed by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the Oval Office.

As the founding sponsor of the Youth of the Year program, the Reader’s Digest Foundation has given nearly $8 million towards BGCA and 62 teens have been selected as the National Youth of the Year. For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.bgca.org/yoy.

In operation since 2006, the Boys and Girls Club of Phillips County recently doubled in size with the
opening of its 18,000+ square-foot flagship facility in fall of 2008. It currently serves over 450 members – approximately 15% of all school-aged youth in the county seat of Helena-West Helena – and offers high quality programming in all five Boys & Girls Club program areas (1. Character & Leadership, 2. Health & Life Skills, 3. Education & Career Development, 4. Sports, Fitness and Recreation, 5. The Arts). Drawing regional attention for its successes – including several regional and national awards – BGCPC has been held up as a model Boys & Girls Club by regional leadership.

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has been changing and saving young lives, providing hope and opportunity for kids who need them most. Today, some 4,300 Clubs serve some 4.8 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Known as The Positive Place for Kids, Boys & Girls Clubs can be found all across the country and on U.S. military bases throughout the world. Clubs provide young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. In communities large and small, Clubs positively impact lives and help young people reach their full potential as productive, caring citizens. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. In a recent Harris Survey of Club alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their life. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.