NAWILIWILI — Six years ago, a student coping with depression, at the lowest point in her fight, attempted suicide.
The rope broke. Through that experience, she was introduced to the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, which turned her life around.
The story of that young girl, Kimberly Matutina, was part of the Boys & Girls Youth of the Year Kauai Showcase that unfolded Sunday before an audience of more than a hundred people enjoying breakfast at Duke’s Canoe Club at Kalapaki Beach.
“If you asked me if I was going to be here, six years ago, I might not have been,” Matutina said. “A piece of my life was missing — I lost my dad when I was 5 years old, my mother was busy working to support us, and my brother was never home. I felt unloved.”
Matutina, a senior at Kauai High School, is one of five candidates from the Boys & Girls Club, Kauai, who will be competing on the Oahu stage for Youth of the Year honors Saturday. The awards announcement will be made Feb. 9 at the Hawaii Convention Center on Oahu.
Joining her are Michael John Anderson, a junior at Kapaa High School; Alexis Freeman, a senior at Kapaa High School; Kody Kobayashi, a sophomore at Kauai High; and Jessica Herman, a junior at Kapaa High.
Bryden Ka‘auwai, the reigning state Youth of the Year, ‘Ehukai Goias-Medeiros, and Jannelle Puplava will be taking the stage as participants, said Lea Nuesca, the Kauai Youth of the Year coordinator.
“We don’t have a Kauai elimination round,” said Tina Albao, the Kauai manager for the Boys & Girls Club. “Instead, our candidates have the Kauai Showcase where they are able to present before an audience, including dignitaries from the county and community, before meeting the rest of the candidates for the state honor.”
Nuesca said candidates went through various steps, including submitting several essays and presentations before reaching the Kauai Showcase which also featured other Boys & Girls Club doing inspirational presentations, including the rendering of “Rise Up” by Mino‘aka Kuehu-Sheldon, and Polynesian presentations by Boys & Girls Club, Kapaa Clubhouse performing as Halau o Boys & Girls Club.
Stories told by the Youth of the Year candidates demonstrated the impact the organization has made on their individual battles against some of the issues in the road to their growth.
This story has been corrected to reflect that it was Matutina who lost her father at an early age.