Sometimes, strength can come from unexpected sources.
Crystal Aguilar, the unit director of the Coupeville Boys &Girls Club, has found on more than one occasion that when a plan seems to be unraveling, it’s actually one of her teenage volunteers that assures her that things will work out in the end.
It’s part of why she finds it so fitting that Kyle Burnett, 15, has been named the club’s Youth of the Year for 2017.
“He is actually a calming force, which is very strange,” Aguilar said.
Burnett, a sophomore at Coupeville High School, is a dedicated volunteer staff member who remembers what it was like when he attended the club as a kid.
So, he wanted to give back.
Since June, he has devoted more than 650 hours of community service to the club, doing everything from supervising children to setting up for events to providing valuable input.
“He’s always been a good kid,” program director Josie Prescott said. “He’s been a very big help especially with summer camp. There have been days when we didn’t think we were going to pull through but we did because we had him.”
Burnett was selected as the club’s Youth of the Year because of his strong academics, commitment to the club and dedication to the community.
At the club, he helps kids with their homework, plays games with them and helps with administrative tasks, among other responsibilities. He shows up five days a week.
“I’ve been going here for a long time and I value what the club means to me,” Burnett said. “The kids should have that, too. I like to be here to help with that.”
“What’s really great about Kyle is not only his dedication and his commitment but his intelligence,” Aguilar said. “He is probably the smartest 15-year-old kid I have ever met. He has a quest for knowledge that is insatiable. When you speak with him, you can tell he’s really thought about his arguments. He’s really thought about his opinions. He researches things. He’s just always looking to learn more and more and more. And that’s something you don’t really get from a lot of teenagers these days. I think that works to his benefit and will prove very fruitful for him as he gets older.”
Burnett will compete against other Youth of the Year candidates from the Boys &Girls Club of Snohomish County next month to see who will represent the parent club at the state level. He will be interviewed by a panel of judges and deliver a speech.
Already, he has written three essays that described his vision of America’s youth, his personal brand and how his club experiences have helped shape him.
“It’s a lot of work,” Burnett joked, drawing an exasperated look from Aguilar.
“Kyle!” she said.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity,” Burnett said.