Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs’ Boys & Girls Club is growing up.
Their downtown clubhouse has served more than 800 children each year since its inception in 2009 and continues to attract more kids. This fall, junior staff members Laura Bradfield, Isiah Mendoza-Forsyth, Kimberly Heald, Jessica Mader, Lizzie Schurman and Laina Weinman are heading off to college with $3,000 scholarships from the Boys & Girls Club of America.
This year marks the first year the local chapter was established enough for its 18-year-old staff members to apply for the Darden Scholarships that recognized 68 junior staffers across the country for their contributions.
The Steamboat club’s six scholarship recipients said Tuesday they plan to pursue a diverse set of careers ranging from international relations to sports psychology when they leave for colleges in Washington, D.C., California, Colorado and Wisconsin.
But leaving the club will be tough, scholarship recipient Jessie Mader said.
“This isn’t just a summer job,” Mader said. “It’s helping me with my future. This experience has helped me more easily interact with people, which is something I can use as I pursue my own career.”
In addition to the Darden Scholarship, Mader also was recognized as the Steamboat club’s youth of the year, an honor that qualified her and two other youths of the year in the United States for a four-year scholarship to Marquette University valued at more than $30,000 annually.
Mader began working for the club before it opened, and she said the countless hours spent developing club programming and working with children ages 6 to 18 will help her as she seeks a career in medicine.
“I just love it here,” she said. “It’s almost my second home.”
Mader originally planned to attend the University of Colorado but changed her college plans last month when she learned she won the full-ride scholarship to the small university in Milwaukee, Wis.
“The biggest challenge for me is no longer how I’m going to pay for school, but what I’m going to accomplish while I’m there,” Mader said.
Northwest Colorado Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Dana Duran said she and the other staff members at the clubhouse look forward to seeing their former staff members return and share what they’ve been able to accomplish in college.
“It’s really sad to see the staffers leave from a boss perspective, but I’m so excited for their future,” Duran said.
Junior staff coordinator Sahra Beaupre worked closely with the scholarship recipients and said many of this year’s departing staffers have helped grow the club since it opened its doors two years ago.
“They’ve all demonstrated incredible resiliency,” she said. “But what amazes me the most is their ability to teach our younger club members.”
Mader and the other scholarship recipients will be honored Sunday at Steamboat’s Boys & Girls Club’s annual “Be Great Brunch” at the Truffle Pig. The brunch will feature a silent auction and serves as a major fundraiser for the club that aims to raise more than $400,000 each year to continue to operate at its current capacity.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com