Imagine leaving the United States when you are 10 years old and moving to a foreign country. You don’t speak a word of your new country’s language. The only people you know are the family who came with you.
In a few years, could you complete two grades of school in one year? Could you become so proficient in your new language that you win local, state and regional competitions based on your presentation skills?
Jacky Lagrace, the 2001-02 Southeast Youth of the Year, did that because of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
“I would not be where I am today,” Lagrace says. “Professionally and personally, the Boys & Girls Clubs helped develop various character skills I would not have had the opportunity to practice anywhere else.
Jacky moved to Orlando from Haiti when he was 10. Even though it was difficult, he knew it was a better opportunity for a great education and economic success. One of the first things his mother did was find a place where Jacky could go after school. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida was just a few minutes away. He started attending and learning English. He developed friendships.
Later, he entered the Youth of the Year competition and excelled, wining the local and state competitions and was a finalist in the regional competitions. Today, he is Regional Director, Clinically Integrated Networks with Adventist Health.
“Prior to my involvement, it was a challenge to get up and give a speech,” he says. “The work that I did as a Youth of the Year, where I spoke at different fundraising events, helped prepared me for the work I do now, which includes a lot of public speaking.
“I’m very thankful to the Almighty for having placed me in the Boys and Girls Clubs when I was younger, Lagrace adds. “And I’m grateful to the Boys and Girls Clubs staff and community leaders who support the Boys and Girls Clubs.”