GAWDA Gives Back 2016

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GAWDA President Bill Visintainer has selected two charities to receive donations from the 2016 GAWDA Gives Back.

Neighborhood Place – A Family Strengthening program in Maui, HI that offers drop-in support service to local families.  The Neighborhood Place of Wailuku strives to embrace parents by giving support, assistance, resources, opportunities and encouragement to successfully raise their children.  They provide basic life skill building, counseling and coaching, family activities and home visits.

Watch this short video below to learn more about Neighborhood Place. Also visit their website at http://www.wccmhc.org/

Boys and Girls Club of Maui – Provides safe, positive neighborhood youth centers with afterschool and summer programs for young children between the ages of 9-17.  The goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to ensure that success is within reach of every young person that walks through the doors of the club.

Watch these videos below to learn more about Boys and Girls Club of Maui. Also visit their website at www.bgcmaui.org

What The Boys And Girls Club of Maui Means To Me

– Speech given by a member selected as “Youth of the Year”

Drugs, abuse, hunger, fear. These are the kinds of things I dealt with on a daily basis. My life was dark and hopeless. I once thought this was my future.

Aloha! I’m honored to be here today representing the Central Boys and Girls Club. I have been a Club member for over six years and I am grateful for every moment of it.

Growing up, my mom would constantly go from one abusive relationship to another. The abuse wasn’t only towards her. I remember when she would turn her head while they would abuse us, too. I felt insignificant. I remember eating spoiled rice because my mom sold our food stamps for drug money. Mom cared more about these men, and getting high, than her own children.

I was placed in the Foster Care system. Even though I ended up in good homes, I still hoped that my mom would get clean. She had three chances, when the state let me return. Each time she ended up back on drugs. I felt unworthy. My own mom chose drugs over me.

After a year and half in the Foster Care system, I ended up living with my dad in Maui who was clean and sober at the time. For a few years life was good. I finally had a bed to sleep in, there was food on the table, and I felt loved. Then it came to a halt.

My dad fell back into his substance abuse. Things at home became hostile. My life was slowly slipping back into the chaos of my early childhood. Thankfully, this time I had the Boys and Girls Club.

On my first day at the Club, I remember thinking that this was the kind of place for kids that have good families, come from good homes, and didn’t have to deal with the things I went through. I was wrong. I soon realized that the Club was perfect for me. There were kids from all different backgrounds. At the Club I‘m welcomed, appreciated, and loved. I finally have a place that I‘m proud to be associated with.

I wouldn’t change the childhood I had growing up because it has made me stronger. I have seen firsthand what can happen to me if I make the wrong decisions. The Club has shown me a different outlook, a softer side in life. They were compassionate. They were there for me when I needed them. Without the Club, I don’t think I would have survived this long.

I am a living example that great futures start at the Boys and Girls Club. Ever since being a member, I have earned a 3.5 GPA. I’m also an active member of a church. The Club and my church have given me a foundation and a moral compass for my life.

I am looking forward to attending college after I return from a mission for my church. Now I know that drugs, abuse, hunger and fear will never be a part of my life ever again. I owe this all to the Boys and Girls Club. Thank you.

Update:

These past six months have been a huge learning experience. I am a freshman at The University of Hawaii at Manoa on Oahu, where I am truly enjoying college life. It is a different, more stressful environment, but I am adapting.

Now that I’m in college, no one is checking to see if I go to class or finish my homework on time. Fortunately, the Boys and Girls Club helped me learn how to manage my time and study smart. Last semester I earned a 3.22 GPA. I am learning so much in school, enough to bug my family with random facts. I’m trying to keep myself healthy by going to the gym and trying not to eat too much. Like most teenagers, I enjoy spending time with my friends at the mall or hanging out after class.

My sister lives on Oahu so it’s been great spending time with her and her family. I recently got back into touch with my birth parents. Being able to forgive them for what they did in the past was a big step for me and my family. I’ve learned a lot about myself and continue to work on bettering myself.

The Boys and Girls Club of Maui made this all possible for me. I learned many valuable life lessons at the Club that I still practice every day. I remember being a scared little boy who didn’t know what to do with my life. The Club helped me to realize that education is the key to success, and that I could go to college. I am so thankful for all that the Club has done for me.

 

Thank you GAWDA members for making a difference in the lives of these children and their families. We hope you join us in giving back to these very special charities.