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East Hall teen is top youth at Boys & Girls Clubs

POSTED: February 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

Ed Hollis receives the 2008 Youth of the Year award Thursday at Peach State Bank during the Boys & Girls Clubs annual banquet. The award is designed to promote and recognize service to club and community, academic performance and contributions to family and spiritual life.

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County has a new youth ambassador.

Ed Hollis, 18, has been chosen as the organization’s Youth of the Year and will serve as the organization’s spokesman in 2008. Hollis was honored at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County board of directors’ meeting Wednesday evening.

Hollis was one of five finalists competing for the club’s top honor.

Each finalist had been recognized as the organization’s Youth of the Month in the past year. For the past two months, the young men and women, ages 14 to 18, were evaluated based on their attendance to club activities, contributions to the organization and to the community, their scholastic achievements and oratory skills.

Each had prepared a speech that was judged by a nine-person panel. All of the finalists, many of them club members for nearly 10 years, delivered their speeches, telling of personal obstacles they overcame with the help of the Boys & Girls Clubs, to the board of directors Wednesday night.

To get ready for the judging, the finalists said they had to sacrifice sports practices and recreation time working on their speeches and applications.

"They put a lot of work into their speeches," said Joe Ethier, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.

Ethier expressed his pride in each of the teenagers who worked for the club’s highest honor, and said the five finalists were prime examples of why the organization exists.

"We’re not baby sitters," said Ethier. "We’re there to develop young people."

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County works daily with nearly 360 children ages 6 to 18. A majority of those children come from economically disadvantaged circumstances, and many come from single-parent homes. The Youth of the Year program recognizes participants who overcome such obstacles.

Hollis, now a senior at East Hall High School, said he was young when his father left the family and Hollis was left feeling like his life had no purpose. At the Boys & Girls Clubs, Hollis was told to channel his anger for his father through football. Now, Hollis said his life has a purpose. He takes care of his little sister, he manages the varsity basketball team and he has plans to continue his education after graduation.

"You heard him say it," Ethier said. "(Hollis is) a statistic in all forms and fashions, and he’s going to college."

Hollis will go on to compete in the statewide Youth of the Year program in Atlanta on March 20 and 21.

Youth of the Year is the top honor for Boys & Girls Clubs members. The honor is reserved for members who make notable contributions to their families, schools, community and the club.

Joyce Wilson, the organization’s vice president of development and marketing, said the Youth of the Year program encourages participants to serve their communities and seek leadership roles in the organization and their communities.

"(The program) raises their self-esteem, and lets (participants) realize that these are qualities that they can use once they leave here and go on to college," Wilson said.



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