BGCR names Youth of Year, powerful stories bring Club's mission to life!

The love in the Amber Room last night was palpable. The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield (BGCR) community including families, Club members and alumni as well as supporters, community leaders and the outstanding Club staff and Board of Directors, gathered for what has become the most anticipated event of the year for the Club family.

Now in its 77th year, the Youth Leadership Dinner is an evening dedicated to celebrating the Club and the exceptional young individuals who make it the special place that it is while positively impacting the Ridgefield community as a whole.

With Mike Flynn at the helm and a dedicated Club staff, countless young people in our community credit the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield with changing the trajectory of their lives for the better. A force for good, the Club’s mission came to life through the powerful stories that Club kids told.

From the first day I walked through the doors of the Club, I was accepted

The Club:

... is my second family

... represents kindness and safety

... helped shape who I am today and I'm forever grateful

... taught me invaluable life skills that I have been able to use when leading and implementing projects to give back to the community

... taught me that the power of self-love creates happiness

... is a place where I learn to do the right thing and give back to the community

... has taught me that limits are only in your mind

... helped me become the best version of myself

The evening began with the presentation of the Character and Leadership awards, along with a Legacy Award bestowed upon Annie Cousins and Lili Scott, both of whom are now college students. Additionally, the compassionate and selfless Jeff Goncalves was recognized for his ten years of dedicated service to the Club. These awards set the stage for the main event of the evening: the announcement of the 2024 Youth of the Year and Junior Youth of the Year.

Former Youth of the Year winners Allie Cauchon (2019) and Annie Cousins (2020) had the honor of awarding nine-year club member and sophomore at RHS Milo Staples as Junior Youth of the Year. 

Milo began his journey at BGCR when he resided in Danbury and explained how he ran to his family car after school each day eager to head to Ridgefield. A year later, his family moved into town. “The Club is one of the most important aspects of my life. I’ve learned many lessons and made special bonds and the Club overall has made me the person I am today,” Milo says. 

As twelve incredible Youth of the Year candidates stood in anticipation, Cauchon and Cousins announced the 2024 Youth of the Year winner, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon a Club member. 

Aidan Byrne was named BGCR 2024 Youth of the Year! Aidan, a senior at RHS and nine-year Club member says, “The Club always picked me up when I fell down and has given me the space to be myself and grow with people who help me become the best version of myself.” 

For nearly two decades, the Youth of the Year program has recognized and celebrated the extraordinary achievements of local teens. 

We are beyond grateful to the BGCR staff including Mike, Kristin Goncalves, Jeff Goncalves, Annie and Timmy Cozens, and Triston Philip for all you do for our youth. The work you do is among the most important in the world.

Learn more about BGCR here.

Submitted by KA

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