Hope For The Future

 

 January 26, 2017 

  • LISA JAMES/ Press Hope Newman, right, a Post Falls High School senior, talks with Maddy Cline, 8, as Maddy eats the pizza she made in her cooking class at the Coeur d'Alene Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday.Hope, who is also a junior staff member at the Post Falls Boys and Girls Club, has been selected the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County's 2017 Youth of the Year.

  • By DEVIN HEILMAN - Coeur d' Alene Press Staff Writer

Whether she is tutoring, teaching leadership skills or keeping hyped-up kiddos occupied while they wait for pizza to bake, Hope Newman is happy with her role at the Boys and Girls Club.

A junior staff member and volunteer who adores the younger club members, Hope remembers being one of those little kids who needed positive role models to get her excited about the club.

"Having my family and the staff members encourage me to come here, it's changed my life," Hope, 17, said Tuesday evening. "The best part of Boys and Girls Club for me is that it's not just a daycare. The staff make the difference. They take hours planning the programs and making sure it's stuff we want to do rather than what you do in regular old P.E. or art class.

"They play with you and that kind of atmosphere. That’s why I come back," she said. "Now, being a junior staff, it’s really cool because I get to be that person that the staff were to me."

From a shy elementary-schooler to a confident Post Falls High School senior, the Boys and Girls Club has been an integral piece of Hope's journey. She created the "Step it Up" program to encourage other youths to be good leaders. She's active with the homework-focused "Power Hour" and runs creative writing workshops. She works at the Jordan Johnson Clubhouse in Post Falls and volunteers at the Coeur d'Alene Club.

Hope is also a leader in her Girl Scout Troop, president of her school's DECA Club and has worked as the organizer of "Blankets of Hope," a program through which she makes blankets and gives them to those in need.

“I made the blankets for kids and families who were going through rough times,” she said. "I made these blankets just making sure that these people going through those rough times have something — not just knowing somebody was praying or thinking of them — but something they could hold onto that was cozy and warm."

She's an exemplary club representative, and this is why she was selected as the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County's 2017 Youth of the Year.

“I was really proud of myself for coming along all these years,” Hope said. "Really, I did it for the kids this year. I listened to my own heart throughout the whole process. In years past, I had taken everybody’s advice on my speech during rehearsals and stuff. This year I took advice but I listened to my own heart for the whole thing and let me be me. That’s something the club’s always taught me, so I followed that.”

This was Hope's fifth year competing for Youth of the Year and her second time winning. She first received the honor as a freshman in 2013 and represented Kootenai County at the state level. Although she did not go on to regionals then, she continued to be in the running each year and maintained the values and positive qualities expected of Youths of the Year.

And her determination paid off.

"She's extremely hard working. It’s been really cool to see her go from club kid to intern to junior staff," said Jaymee Paul, Lola and Duane Hagadone Clubhouse director. "Now she’s going to be graduating and going to college. It’s cool to see someone really grow up in the club. She's awesome."

Executive Director Ryan Davis said Hope is "an absolutely amazing example of everything we try to create at Boys and Girls Club."

"She never gave up, she continued to persevere, she's continued to get better at her craft of telling her story and it is a testament that now she's our Youth of the Year," he said. “We’re extremely proud of her and always have been since day one, since she’s been a club member. We’re super excited for her and beyond Youth of the Year, there’s no doubt she’s going to go on and do some absolutely amazing things."

Hope was awarded a $500 scholarship and will represent Kootenai County in Boise for a chance to win more scholarships at the state event Feb. 22 and 23 in Boise. From there, she could go to the regional and national competitions.

"She has a maturity that definitely stood out, her poise was strong," said Lakes Principal Jeff Bengtson, who served as a competition judge. "You could just tell some of the leadership positions she has within her school have put her in the capacity to be a strong individual. She knows what she wants to do and she is willing to set her mind to it, and you can see that she has goals in life. She’s not going to stop and she’s not going to let anything get in her way.”

Hope will celebrate her 18th birthday Saturday. She intends to major in business administration and minor in ministry at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix in the fall.