Two young women honored at local Boys and Girls Club event

Published 10:31 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

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By Lynn J. Richardson
Tennessee Senator Rusty Crowe was on hand at the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County Wednesday to recognize two of the Club’s most outstanding members – Youth of the Year recipients Gracie Yoder and Kenlee Blackburn.
Crowe presented Youth of the Year 2023 Gracie Yoder with a state resolution signed by Governor Bill Lee. In part, the proclamation recognizes Gracie as someone who uses her “considerable talents and resources to serve others and who should be specially recognized for (her) public and community service…”
The Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year award is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence, and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle, says Club CEO Shelly Parham.
Gracie, a senior at Elizabethton High School, proudly serves as the Club’s President of the Youth Advisory Council. In the Spring of 2022, she completed the BGCA workforce readiness program which also led to her employment by the Club as a Junior Staff member.
Being selected as a Junior Staff member is a competitive role where teens go through an interview process and are selected to work in a Club apprenticeship.
Parham says Gracie takes the position seriously and dedicates herself to the job, setting an example for the other Club members.
“She is hardworking, dependable – a true leader – and compassionate,” Parham said. “Gracie is the type of young person we need in our community today. Both in her Youth of the Year application and speech, Gracie has shown and continues to show a deep passion for helping children.”
Last year’s Youth of the Year, Kenlee Blackburn, was also recognized at the event and received a $1,000 scholarship from the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County. A senior at Elizabethton High School, Kenlee plans to continue her education at Northeast State after which she will pursue a degree in pre-optometry at East Tennessee State University. She looks forward to attending Pikeville College of Optometry and is planning a career as a pediatric optometrist.
She is currently employed by Family Eyecare of Elizabethton as an optometry tech.
During the presentation, Senator Crowe praised the local Boys and Girls Club, saying it “offers something you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”
“We really really need what this Club is providing – character building, instilling values and emphasizing work ethic,” Crowe added.
Senator Crowe was joined in celebrating both Gracie and Kenlee by Representative John Holsclaw and Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby, along with BGCECC Board members and other Club members.

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