I remember the first time I met Mattea at the Seidman Club back in 2016. She was a very reserved young lady who seemed to have a chip on her shoulder about life. We introduced ourselves and slowly started to get to know each other better as people.
Shortly thereafter, I asked Mattea if she would she allow me to mentor her through our mentoring program. In completing her profile document, I asked her about her background including her personal interests, hobbies, and clubs she belonged to at school. Those questions allowed me to dialogue with Mattea and get a look inside her personal life. Most importantly, it built our relationship and we began to trust each other. Mattea really started to open up and took on more of a leadership role in and around the Club.
In 2017, I approached Mattea about applying for our annual Youth of the Year contest. Mattea accepted the opportunity and ended up as the Seidman Club Representative. She had the opportunity to share her personal life story and challenges, and did a wonderful job on her essay and speech.
Shortly after that, Mattea moved from Grand Rapids to east Michigan. I had not heard from her until I visited Seidman recently and saw a picture of a beautiful young lady – and it was Mattea!
I asked Seidman Club Director Phylicia Wilson to have Mattea contact me, which she did. Mattea came by the Paul I. Phillips Club and visited me and we had the opportunity to catch up on her life. Mattea was back working in Grand Rapids, while completing her high school diploma and planning to attend Jackson State College in Mississippi.
One of my favorite things about my job is reconnecting with young people who have been to the Club. Mattea is a success story because at an adverse time in her life, she kept on going and trying her best. I am grateful that the Boys & Girls Club was her safe haven for her and her sisters. I am so proud of Mattea, and am looking forward to what is next for her.