Cleveland - Frank Austin, a senior at Max S. Hayes High School and a youth leader in the Slavic Village neighborhood, has been named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s Youth of the Year for 2019.
Frank, 18, who attends the Broadway Club and is a junior staff member there, was honored at today’s BGCC Breakfast of Champions and Youth of the Year Recognition event at Cuyahoga Community College. Finishing second was Ti’yonna Scott of John Adams High School and the John Adams Teen Center, while Danesha McKinney and Doriann Johnson, both students at Jane Addams Business Career Center and members of the King Kennedy Club, tied for third.
Frank, who will now move on to state competition April 5-6 in Perrysburg, Ohio, said he was angry and in need of direction when he and his siblings lost their mother unexpectedly four years ago.
“I found that direction at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland,” he said. “They had everything -- a basketball court, games, computers, books and music. Most importantly, it was a place where I could just be a teen.”
At Friday’s event, Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson gave the keynote address and was honored as Youth Champion of the Year. Master of ceremonies was WEWS anchor Frank Wiley.
Frank has been an honor roll student and a P-16 Youth Leader for Slavic Village Development. In addition, he co-facilitated “Stop the Hate’ events at his Club and diagnosed mechanical problems during Ohio City’s Bike Co-Op’s Bike-a-Thon. He was also named MVP of the Senate golf league two years in a row. For the past two years, Frank has been an intern at Liberty Ford.
Interim Club Director Shanelle Moon says she was “in awe of Frank’s ability to be resilient” after the death of his mother when he was 14. She says Frank “is no poster child for a sob story. He is one of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s greatest success stories in the making. Frank has an unmatched work ethic. This kid was waking up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, getting his younger siblings ready for school, taking two buses and a rapid to get to school.”
All four Youth of the Year finalists received scholarships from Cleveland Indians Charities. In addition, Frank was awarded a full scholarship toMatrix Trade Institute and a mechanics position in Liberty Ford's service operations upon successful graduation from the 20-week program. Frank was also awarded a scholarship from the BGCC Women’s Board and received a special gift from Spectrum Reach.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland provides safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school, focusing on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character development. Each day, an average of about 900 kids go to the Clubs. There are 13 Clubs, 12 in Cleveland and one in East Cleveland.
Photos courtesy of Ken Wood / Boys And Girls Club Of Cleveland
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