Boys & Girls Club Red Mountain Branch Youth of the Year Inspires Hope

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L-R: Council member Mikah Carlos, Boys & Girls Club Youth Development Specialist Samantha Harris, Red Mountain Branch Youth of the Year Jordan French, Council member Jacob Butler, and former Red Mountain Branch Youth of the Year 2021 Kennise McGertt support French on stage at the Celebrate Youth Gala after he receives his scholarship award. Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale.

By Nalani Lopez

Standing in front of more than 600 attendees at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s annual Celebrate Youth Gala fundraiser on Saturday, March 23 was 15-year-old Jordan French, representing the Red Mountain branch the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

French is a freshman at Mountain View High School and has been a member of the Red Mountain branch since he was in the third grade. He’s also a lover of instruments, boasting that the guitar, piano, viola and “a few other thingamabobs” are on his list of musical skills.

A couple of months earlier, French had applied for the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year award for the Red Mountain branch. Each chapter recognizes an exceptional Club member who demonstrates the values of the organization, such as community service, personal achievement and academic excellence.

French won the Youth of the Year award for the Red Mountain branch, which means at the March 23 gala he competed with the winners from other branches in hopes of being named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Youth of the Year.

French’s speech emphasized hope and described his experience of navigating through personal hardships as a young person.

“We all go through tough times, [and] even if it happens out of nowhere, it happens. All we can do is learn from it,” said French.

During difficult periods of his life, French said, he found community in the Red Mountain branch at the Way of Life Facility. “I started coming here a lot and it was like a home to me,” said French. “I started to open up, and they would make sure I was well fed.”

French also credits his friends and mentors he met through the Club as a strong support system to him. “During hard times, my friends really helped me out. They experienced what I had experienced, so when I comfort people, I try to be in their shoes,” said French.

Boys & Girls Club Red Mountain Branch Youth of the Year Jordan French represented the Community and his branch at the Boys & Girls Cub of Greater Scottsdale’s Celebrate Youth Gala on March 23. Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale.

French said he was not yet fully comfortable speaking in public. “It was really terrifying to speak in front of just 28 people, [so] 600 people was a stretch. But I still did it, and I had some fun with it,” he said.

In the future, he hopes to become a musician or therapist. With the scholarship he earned at the gala, he can choose to fulfill either of these dreams when the time comes.

“Change is scary. I know that because I have been through a lot,” French said. “In a way, I find it beautiful. I imagine caterpillars or butterflies changing. If a caterpillar stays a caterpillar, it’s just a caterpillar. But when it changes, it becomes something even more beautiful: a butterfly. I see life as beautiful; I don’t like to see it as dark, letting it get me down. If you do that, it’s not going to help you—it’ll make things worse for you. I’ve been there, but now I’m here, happy as I can be. Even though I didn’t win, it’s all right because I can always try again.”

French hopes to reapply for the Youth of the Year award during his junior or senior year of high school so he can move on to further Boys & Girls Club competitions.

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