LIHUE — Rendle Mones, a junior at Kauai High School, said he is not a statistic Monday as he arrived for duty at the Boys & Girls Club, Lihue Clubhouse.
“Do you know that one in four teenagers consider suicide?” said Mones, a B&G Leaders in Training member. “I was part of that, but I’m not one of the statistics. Before I became a part of the Boys & Girls Club, I was a very negative person. I was bullied because of my physical size — I was obese — and I was always alone.”
But that was not the person who sat outside the B&G Lihue Clubhouse fending questions from young people inquiring on the start of basketball practice and comments on their weekend experiences.
Instead, Mones and fellow Boys & Girls Club Leaders in Training member Jaelyn Belarde, a senior at Kauai High School, were being congratulated on finishing as the first runner-up, and the second runner-up in the annual Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year competition Saturday on Oahu.
“They told us we made history,” Mones said. “Since the competition started in 1947, there has never been two members from the same clubhouse who have made the top three.”
Jeffrey Jones, a sophomore at Waianae High School on Oahu was selected as the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. Mones was named First Runner-up and Belarde was presented the Second Runner-up award during the BGCH Youth of the Year luncheon.
“Rendle had a better package than myself,” Belarde said, adding her congratulations to Nuesca’s. “We go through a Youth of the Year program where we learned public speaking, how to write speeches and essays. We had to write three essays on why we should be Youth of the Year.”
Belarde said she was speechless when she was named Second Runner-up.
“I didn’t expect to be chosen,” she said. “I had heard about the program, but never saw myself as even being selected to the top three. I feel that all of my dedication to the program, and my commitments just goes to show that I can be successful.”
After becoming acquainted with the B&G program, Belarde overcame domestic violence issues in her home as well as the isolation the situation created within her friends and family.
The B&G Lihue Clubhouse helped her deal with her negative circumstances and turned her life to become active in the BGCH Biddy Basketball and Flag Football.
“In order to become a Leader in Training, one must show dedication, come to the program daily, and not just participate, but become a role mentor for the younger members,” said Lea Nuesca, Boys & Girls Club programs manager.
Mones worked his way through obesity and bullying issues. He admits to hanging out with the wrong crowd of “druggies.”
“Many positive things have happened since I joined the Boys & Girls Club,” Mones said. “The Boys & Girls Club have helped me find purpose. Helping people makes me feel positive, and when you help someone, you feel appreciated.”
Nuesca said the Boys & Girls Club, Lihue Clubhouse serves about 120 active after-school elementary and high school students, making it the second-busiest site next to Spalding Hall on Oahu. The Boys & Girls Club, Lihue Clubhouse also has programs extending beyond the school calendar year, including programs for summer, winter, fall, and spring breaks.