Cumberland teen named Youth of the Year

Cumberland teen named Youth of the Year

Cumberland High School sophomore Raeqwong Roberts has been named the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln Youth of the Year. The 15-year-old has been a member of the club for eight years and is known to help staff with the younger club members. (Valley Breeze photo by Meghan Kavanaugh)

CUMBERLAND - A Cumberland High School sophomore has been named the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln Youth of the Year.

Raeqwong Roberts, 15, is a longtime member of the Boys & Girls Club, where staff said he has grown up to become an integral part of the team and almost a mascot for the club.

"He's a fixture here," said Tina Lundgren, the club's mentoring coordinator, who called Raeqwong personable, responsible, helpful, polite and respectful. "I always think of Raeqwong as, like, a mascot."

She said employees breathe a sigh of relief when they see him walk through the door after school each day, knowing he will volunteer his time to help with the younger children.

Some of the other members even respond better to Raeqwong than they do members of the club staff.

"He has a great way about him," Lundgren said.

Tamara Burman, director of operations at the club, said Raeqwong was chosen from three nominees after each gave a short speech to board members.

"Raeqwong's dedication and commitment to this organization is unlike anything I've ever seen," Burman said, adding that sometimes his help is taken for granted. "He's really such a huge help. We wanted to show him we are thankful."

In earning the Youth of the Year title, he will go on to compete against other club representatives throughout the state on April 16 at the Statehouse.

A panel of judges will assess each candidate based on home and family life, moral character, community, academics, service to the club and life goals, Burman said, with the state winner taking home $1,000.

Last year, the winner was Cumberland-Lincoln club member Lauren Kowalski of Lincoln.

Raeqwong will be one of the younger contestants, Burman said.

The son of Melissa White and Keith Threats, Raeqwong has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club for eight years, since he was 7. He lives just a short walk away on one of the neighboring streets.

"It's become like a second home to me," Raeqwong said. "I love the support."

During his time at the club, he has played basketball and worked through a junior employment program. He is a part of Lundgren's mentoring program, through which he has worked with mentor Brad Dean for years.

He said English is his best subject in school, and he enjoys reading books by author Paul Langan.

"I feel like we need more literature in the world," Raeqwong said.

He said he has aspirations to become a police officer or therapist.

"They both help people a lot," he said, "which is something I've done since I've come here."

He has been known to help with homework and give advice to younger members, Lundgren and Burman said.

"I love helping the kids every day," Raeqwong said. "I feel like I can make a difference."