A Natural Leader

On Senior Program Director Delbria Walton’s first day at the Fairfield Court Club, Jasimine greeted her and began to show her the ropes. It was a few minutes before Delbria realized who Jasimine was.

“On my first day at the Club, I thought Jasimine was a program leader. She commanded the room and so many of the other members looked up to her. I distinctly remember asking her about some of the daily operations in the Club,” Delbria said smiling.

It’s encounter that Delbria and Jasimine still laugh about a year later, but it speaks volumes about who Jasimine is. At 16, Jasimine has the respect of staff and peers alike – a true leader in every sense of the word.

“You know when you start something, you get that feeling it’s going to be perfect for you? That’s how I felt when I came to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond.”

When Jasimine walked into Fairfield five years ago, she kept her eyes to the floor. She wanted to be home playing her guitar, but her mother wanted her to learn more than guitar chords. But, it didn’t take long for the always-curious Jasimine to have her interest peaked. The robotics team caught her attention and she was drawn in by the new and interesting activity. Jasimine quickly became involved in other opportunities within the Clubs. As more doors opened, her natural leadership abilities emerged.

“You know when you start something, you get that feeling it’s going to be perfect for you? That’s how I felt when I came to Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond.”

She was inspired by the way in which the staff interacted with the members and how much they learned from one another, so she asked how she could help. She now works at the front desk, checking in members when they arrive, she assists with homework and always seems to anticipate the needs of the Club.

 
20180207-_DV27346.jpg
 

“Jasimine is infectious, from her smile and positivity to her drive and determination,” Delbria said. “As she has become more involved in the teen program, I love to watch as she motivates others.”

“I discovered I like to help people”

Jasimine has the unique position of being a teen in a Club whose members are mainly elementary school-aged. With four younger siblings, she’s accustomed to the “big sister” role.

“You have to find some common ground with a child. It’s just like talking to a grown-up but at a younger level. I don’t believe in ‘you’re big, I’m small,’” Jasimine said matter-of-factly.

When a young boy at the Club was struggling with reading, Jasimine didn’t hesitate to take him under her wing. She began working with him every day and he is now reading at grade level.

Delbria recalled another instance when Jasimine returned from a field trip with some literature for another member.

“When I asked her who it was for, she replied, ‘Barry, he wants to be an artist and I think he can do it.’ The next day she texted three different adults to remind us to give Barry all the things she had picked up,” Delbria said. “Just that type of passion for others, it’s truly great to see.”

“It’s like, I actually have a voice.”

While a natural leader, programs like Youth of the Year have helped Jasimine strengthen those abilities. Through the program, she received training in public speaking, communication, networking and leadership. She also grew her Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond support system, connecting deeply with her peers and staff.

“Youth of the Year is a learning experience – you definitely get out of your comfortable zone. You have to talk in front of a lot of people. The kids [from other Clubs] you’re going up against are like family. The coach became family. The people around the Boys & Girls Clubs admin office became family.”

Feeling the encouragement and support empowered Jasimine and, during in process, she realized something important.

“It’s like, I actually have a voice. It’s just something you can’t describe,” Jasimine said. She makes sure to use her voice to speak out against bullying and peer pressure, especially amongst teens. Her poem, “The Power Within,” delivered at last spring’s BGCMR Live! event centered on young people using their voices to change a generation.

 Jasimine had a memorable performance at last spring’s BGCMR Live! with her poem, “The Power Within”

Jasimine had a memorable performance at last spring’s BGCMR Live! with her poem, “The Power Within”

Youth of the Year has also led to other opportunities for Jasimine. Her principal at Franklin Military Academy attended one of the events and, as a result, asked her to serve as an ambassador for the school. She now gives tours to recruits and is involved with the Color and Honor Guards.

Over the past five years, Jasimine has developed the ability to dig deep and motivate others while staying focused on her goals. Jasimine is determined to become the first woman in her family to receive a degree and plans to attend Spelman College when the time comes. She wants to have a background in accounting so she can be an entrepreneur, and study sociology so she can better understand and help those in her community.

“I feel like if I can do this, I can make a difference.”

With the skills that she has developed at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond along with her ambition, commanding presence, and her desire to help others, doors will no doubt open for Jasimine throughout her journey.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond is making a difference in the lives of young people every day. With your support, we can continue developing young people like Jasimine, who are ready for life and empowered to make change in their community. Learn more about ways to support our work.