Charlotte BGC Announces Youth of the Year

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte named East Mecklenburg High junior Courtni Wallace as it “Youth of the Year” for 2015-’16.

Wallace, a member of the Belmont Avenue Boys & Girls Club, was the featured speaker at the annual Great Futures Breakfast held Tuesday at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

The breakfast, sponsored by Duke Energy, also served to kick off a campaign to raise $200,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte, which offer programs aimed at keeping at-risk students in school. The money will go toward after-school programming for at-risk youths at the clubs.

“It was at (The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs) that I began to figure out who I was,” Wallace told the crowd. “It was the place where I became a better person. The Club is a safe environment to take my mind off my troubles. It has helped me academically, physically and emotionally, and allowed me to blossom into the person I am today.”

Wallace, 17, will now compete in the state for scholarships, and in additional competitions regionally and nationally. Felicia Cohen, unit director at the Belmont Avenue club, called Wallace a “stand out” among the members.

“She has been a part of several community service projects, including feeding the homeless,” said Cohen. “By serving others, Courtni shows her willingness to help and give of herself unconditionally.”

The eight local clubs are open to school-age children in Mecklenburg and Union counties, with the cost of membership offset by contributions from the community. Programs include academics, recreation, the arts, character and leadership, and health and life skills. The clubs are in diverse neighborhoods from Charlotte Housing Authority sites to the nation’s only club in a homeless shelter