Ewa Beach Teen Up For Youth Of The Year Award

Ron’s Corner…City Councilman Ron Menor

Every now and then, you meet people who profoundly inspire you. I met two such people at a Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii (BGCH) awards ceremony held March 8 at Hawaii Prince Hotel – sisters Joy and Angela Gabriel.

Joy and Angela, who are from Hale Pono Clubhouse in Ewa Beach, were among 11 Youth of the Year Award candidates who were selected from each of the BGCH’s eight clubhouse sites. Joy was named Youth of the Year and was to represent the Boys & Girls Club for the state title March 27 at the state Capitol, where she competed against others representing Hilo, Maui and the military.


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City Councilman Ron Menor with Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii member Joy Gabriel, who is one of five regional candidates for the state Youth of the Year award. Photo courtesy of Ron Menor.

Joy, a senior at Campbell High, shared with the audience the personal challenges she overcame. Hale Pono Clubhouse provided Joy with a sense of safety and security, allowing her to bloom as an individual. Joy joined the Leaders in Training program, where she learned leadership, management and communication skills.

Adult mentors Ikona Keanu and Lori Respicio took Joy under their wings, got her involved with community volunteer work, kept her on track with school work and helped her plan for the future. In turn, she now is serving as a mentor for younger kids at Hale Pono Clubhouse.

Her sister Angela was also a candidate for 2014 Youth of the Year. She joined the leadership program and, like her sister, serves as a mentor for her younger peers and volunteers for numerous community-service projects. Over the past year, Angela has dedicated more than 100 hours to service.

Congratulations to Joy and Angela for serving as inspirational examples, and my personal mahalo to Hale Pono Clubhouse in Ewa Beach for giving both girls hope for a brighter future!

A third inspirational young person whom I was fortunate to meet is Ewa Beach resident Alyshia Shimizu. She made headlines in 2000 when she contracted flesh-eating bacteria at the age of 5, forcing her to undergo numerous surgeries and years of physical therapy. She overcame the physical challenges but found that the bullying and taunting from classmates were difficult to cope with.

Alyshia developed a positive outlook on life, which helped her to deal with her peers’ cruel remarks. She enrolled in karate and entered beauty pageants to gain more self-confidence. During these beauty competitions, Alyshia found that she wasn’t alone when it came to being bullied. She used her platform as a beauty pageant contestant to speak out against bullying.

I presented Alyshia an honorary certificate at the City Council’s Feb. 19 meeting for perseverance in the face of adversity and for her courageous stance against bullying. Alyshia’s story inspires scores of young people to believe in themselves and rise above whatever obstacles come their way in life.

City Councilman Ron Menor represents District 9. He can be reached at 768-5009 or rmenor@honolulu.gov.