Hannah Murphy, daughter of Andre and Lisa Murphy, is the Rockdale Youth of the Year for the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Conyers.
Hannah Murphy admits the idea of attending the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Conyers last fall didn't thrill her at first. She thought the club served mostly younger children; she was 16.
After a few months of going there every day after school, her viewpoint changed.
"I never knew it was designed to help teenagers go to college," Murphy said.Already involved in several extracurricular activities as a junior at Salem High School -- junior class secretary, president of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and a member of the yearbook staff -- Murphy immersed herself in additional activities at the club, such as the Keystone Club, a service organization designed to raise money for the club. This year, she is president of Keystone.
"I came there with a natural talent of leadership, so I fit right in there with the Keystone Club," said Murphy, now 17 and a senior at Salem.
Recognizing her drive as a high achiever, the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta has chosen Murphy as the Youth of the Year for Rockdale County, based on her academic achievements, leadership skills and service to the community.
The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta will honor Murphy and 18 other Youths of the Year at a dinner and awards ceremony at the Georgia Aquarium on Nov. 15.
Six of the 19 candidates will be chosen as finalists based on speeches they've written about how the Boys and Girls Club has influenced their lives. The finalists will read their speeches at the event and the Boys and Girls Club will choose a top Youth of the Year for metro Atlanta.
Murphy's achievement as Rockdale Youth of Year is particularly impressive because over the last year her family suffered financial hardship and lost their home. Murphy said they moved to a shelter, and that after school she and her two younger siblings could not stay in the shelter by themselves. So, their mother enrolled them at the Boys and Girls Club.
The Boys and Girls Club offered her comfort in a time of displacement.
"During that time, going to the shelter, it cut me off from my friends. Going to the club brought in new friends and made my social life more stable," Murphy said.Murphy said she took advantage of resources at the club which taught her skills such as how to budget her money.
"I wasn't aware they had different programs for different areas in your life," said Murphy, who added that although she hasn't decided on a college, she'd like to major in either business or pre-med, to become a pediatrician.
Murphy said one of the fundraisers through Keystone Club she helped organize, and will present again this year, involved a sleepover for the younger children. She also volunteered for a car wash and fish fry.
"(The Boys and Girls Club) has given me responsibilities or tasks that I need to be responsible for," said Murphy. "They put me in charge to where I can make things happen."