Desiree Kellam is the Eastern Shore Boys & Girls Club candidate for the Youth of the Year competition in Southeast Virginia.  Kellam, a 15-year-old sophomore at Nandua High School, is the daughter of Larry and Patricia Kellam of Painter.

Kellam began attending the Eastern Shore Boys & Girl Club when she was in the fourth grade, recalling she felt she was making some poor choices at the time and being a bit mischievous. “I feel my time at the Boys and Girls Club has helped me make better decisions and mature as a person,” said Kellam recently, an Honor Roll student at Nandua.

Kellam plays basketball, volleyball and softball, is a member of the local YMCA, tutors younger children at the club and serves in the teen janitorial program at her church.

Kellam says she strives to be a mentor and a great role model to all the youth she encounters. She tells youth, “It does not matter where you come from, it’s where you’re headed.”

Kellam, who is a member of the Keystone Club, the teen program coordinated by Kathy Custis of the Eastern Shore Boys& Girls Club, attends the club each evening after school. “The club has empowered me with the ability to dramatically improve my leadership skills and taught me to set high standards for myself,” said Kellam. “Shield yourself from negativity and stay focused on the prize,” she added.

Kellam, who hopes to attend Virginia Tech and major in accounting, will compete with five other Youth of the Year candidates in Norfolk on March 14 with the winner advancing to state competition.

The Eastern Shore Boys & Club has produced five Youth of the Year winners in Southeast Virginia in its 14-year existence. Its mission is: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, nresponsible citizens.”

The club starts about 3:30 p.m, each school day and provides a hot meal before “Power Hour,” where youth work on academic skills and complete homework, then has activities that include sports, arts,  social and health skills. It remains open until 8 p.m. and provides parents a safe, positive place for their children while they are working. Summer programs for the Boys and Girls Club start at 6:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day.

For more information about the Eastern Shore Boys & Girls Program, call 757-678-5151, ext. 8141.

To donate to the Eastern Shore Unit of BGCSEVA, send a check payable to: BGCSEVA , P.O. Box 845, Exmore, Va. 23350.