2022-23 Midwest Youth of the Year
Club/Organization: Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
Length of Membership: 10 years
Anticipated College: Butler University
Career Interest: Pre-Law
Defining Characteristics: Relentless, Hardworking
“As long as you have a strong work ethic and perseverance, there is nothing that can pull you down, and no obstacle too big to conquer.”
Every young person, like Donovan, deserves a safe, positive environment in which to learn and grow.
Donovan says that growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was “no easy task.” His family moved for a while, but after returning home to Benton Harbor, they tried out something new — their local Club. “A few weeks after getting acclimated to life in Benton Harbor again, my mom signed me up for the Boys & Girls Club in hopes of meeting new people and providing me with a safe place to go.”
At first, Donovan was shy and afraid to make friends, “but all that was soon dismissed by the staff because of their caring tone and supportive character.” Donovan met so many staff members who encouraged his talents, honed his focus and recognized his accomplishments. There, he was first introduced to drama and dance, a passion he soon realized he could not escape.
In the Club, Donovan learned he loved and excelled at so many activities, whether it was drama or dance or all the sports he could play in the gym. Basketball was his favorite, and he tried sports he had never considered like soccer and flag football. He joined the Club Basketball Tournament and formed an understanding of teamwork and leadership — and today, he’s captain of his varsity basketball team, even receiving offers to play in college.
Outside of drama, dance and basketball, Donovan has been the Keystone Club President, the youngest third-degree Taekwondo black belt in the nation, an Honor Roll student and a frequent food drive volunteer. “Through the Club, I now have a better outlook on life, which has allowed me to become a beacon of light for my family and friends, showing them that despite our tough upbringing, there is still an opportunity for success,” Donovan says. “Through my journey of self-exploration, I know that I’m the person I needed when I was younger.”