I first came to the Boys & Girls Club in 2010 at the age of 10 after moving to Nashua from Kenya. Coming from a new country, I had a hard time getting integrated into the education system. Speaking a different language and coming from a different culture made it hard to adjust and make new friends. It was a huge culture shock and a challenge to communicate with other people.

As I started coming to the Club, those barriers started to dissolve. I started getting involved and eventually became part of community; participating in field trips and programs, and just having fun with a group of people I started to call friends. The Club definitely helped build up my love of animation, offering both art and technology programs that I could be involved in and encouraging me to submit my work to competitions. I worked a lot on my animation at the Club, including creating a cartoon called Stinky that dealt with Healthy Eating habits and how to get in shape. We even had a dietician come in to help us create the script for the show.

Entering art competitions through the Club became a stepping stone to pursuing animation as a career field. It allowed me to express myself through art and showcase my ability. The Club not only provided opportunities and avenues that allowed me to pinpoint exactly what I wanted to focus on, it also helped me see areas for improvement and ways to better myself.

Even after I graduated and was accepted to the School of Visual Arts in New York to pursue a degree in Animation, the Club continued to support me through scholarships provided by generous donors. Everything the Club has done for me over the years encouraged me to volunteer at the Club during my summers back home and give back some of what the Club gave me. I started a cartooning program for current Club members to encourage kids to keep creating and help them discover their own skills. I wanted to show them that they can achieve what they want to do if they keep at it and remain true to themselves. Mostly I want them to realize that they can’t get anywhere alone so they should take advantage of the community the Club provides; the programs, the mentors, and other Club members who are there to share in the experience.

The Club has so much to offer. It played such a big role in my life. I know as it continues to grow and create new programs, it will continue to do so for current members. And I’m sure as the kids grow they will learn to appreciate it more and more as I do now.