Our Graduation Dinner and Scholarship Dinner held on May 11th was truly a magical event. With a theme of transformation, we celebrated our graduating seniors, learned more about their lives and dreamt with them as they imagined their futures. I was proud to report to our guests on a promise I had made last year. It was a promise that the leadership at The Friendship Club was about to leap into a new era – one that welcomes, develops, and expands our alumnus into full-fledged staff members. I am here to tell you – it worked! With your support, we have transformed The Friendship Club staff and program by adding four amazing young women this year, serving as youth development assistants and a development assistant. I am proud to say that three of them are graduates of The Friendship Club! We have learned so much in the last year about how our girls and the lessons they learned at The Friendship Club, which have helped shape them in being excellent role models and leaders for our current girls. They hit the ground running, they have a deep loyalty, and they bring insight, new ideas, and patience. We heard from Tiffany Scudero, Youth Development Assistant about her journey through The Friendship Club, early adulthood, college, starting a family and now as a staff member.
We celebrated the achievements of six seniors, Ariona, Michael, Kahlan, Trisha, Abby, and Brandy. They shared their awkward and challenging beginnings, the transformations they made through their teen years with the help of The Friendship Club and then revealed their plans for life beyond high school. I’m proud to say that college is in their future. We then had the chance to hear from Cheyanna Brock-Jiminez, a 2016 graduate and current CSU Sonoma Freshman. Her speech brought the house down as she shared how much she has learned in her first year of college, how she was faced with news of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, but able to help her through that and not having to worry about the financial burden because she had scholarships to count on. She was able thank the team of people she said brought her to that point; “I couldn’t have gotten through everything without the help of everyone that surrounds me. The Friendship Club has continually supported me throughout my college experience. They are always there when I have a question, or need a helping hand, or if I just need someone to talk to. And to know that I have an entire group of people rooting me on, I feel invincible. I keep the lessons that I’ve learned at The Friendship close to my heart as I continue through school. I remember what’s best to do in social situations, I know how to do a fantastic resume, I know how to give a proper speech. They gifted me these abilities. They prepped me for what I’m doing now. My angel Lisa Macrina has never forgotten about me. She’s one of the first people I tell things to when I have news. When I’m back home, I always make sure to pay a visit. Lisa is amazing. She has helped me with letters of recommendation, with my FAFSA, basically with everything! But more importantly, she has been my friend… she has given me great advice and lessons that are always in my mind. She is truly my guardian angel.” Cheyanna said.
It’s moments like these that remind me just how impactful our program is on the individual lives of our girls. It’s not only the staff and the program that makes this difference, but also the people who come into their lives because of The Friendship Club. At the end of the day, we’re devoted to building a community one relationship at a time. I am so proud to be a part of an organization that does that. Thank you to all who have supported our girls, our academic year program, our scholarship fund. Now, it’s time for summer programs to ramp up!