The path to great futures is rarely linear. It’s a journey comprised of many moments that teach us who we are and what we want to become. Ke’Ziah Simpson’s journey with BGCS started in 4th grade, eight years ago. When she started at the Boys & Girls Club of the Sandhills it was different. “Everyone was at one Club from kindergarten thru High School. “I was used to being the oldest at home”, she said. “I really liked it though because it felt like a second family, and they really took me in”.

It was evident as we were chatting, so many of the Members, her friends, stopped for a hug, high five, or a smile and greeting. It was a big day for Ke’Ziah as she receives her Alumni pin and makes it all official on the national Boys & Girls of America website in front of all of her peers and staff who seem more like her family. One in 19 million Americans is a club kid.

Deon Allbrooks, Arear Director BGCS, said “her story of growing up in a single-parent home didn’t stop her”. “She continued to push, strive, and succeed no matter what obstacles she faced”. “Everyone could learn a lot from her.”

Ke’Ziah grinned and confessed, “I have learned a lot from the Club.”. “It helped me to go beyond my comfort zone and get involved in the community.” “It also taught me to keep trying even if you don’t succeed at first.” The third time was a charm when it came to being named Youth of the Year in 2021. She received the Ambassador award the year before.   

Ke’Ziah has participated in Club core programs like Career Launch, a program that prepares teens for our nation’s workforce, and Smart Girls, a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education, and self-esteem enhancement program. Ke’Ziah has also been involved in the honors choir and the all-women’s choir at Pinecrest High School. Like many older teens at the Club, she balances school, BGCS, and an after-school job.

BGCS CEO Steve Kastner commented, “All of us at Boys & Girls Club of Sandhills couldn’t be more pleased with the example that Ke’Ziah has set for other kids in the club.  She has certainly been a great mentor and role model to our younger kids relating to leadership skills, hard work, and discipline that she gained while being a club kid. We are so pleased to have had her as a part of our club for so many years and are confident that she will make a difference in the world.”

Ke’Ziah will continue her education at Sandhills Community College as she plans on eventually teaching as a way of giving back to the community.


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