GREENWICH, Conn. – Jenny Cespedes found a second home at the Boys and Girls of Greenwich 12 years ago. She never left.
Cespedes, a senior at Greenwich High School, was named the club’s Athlete of the Year last week. The award was nice, but Cespedes said relationships are what have kept her coming back to club.
“I love the feeling I get when I get to the club, especially when I see the little kids,’’ Cespedes said. “They always give us hugs and ask us about our day. They actually care about us. We have a special connection with the kids.”
Cespedes has been active in the club's many activities. She plays volleyball and basketball, and was president of Greenwich Cardinal Keystone, a leadership club for teens ages 14-18. The Keystone Club focuses on academic success, career preparation and community service.
One of Cespedes’ role models at the club is athletic coordinator Mike Gerald, who coached her in basketball.
"I always spent my time in the gym,’’ Cespedes said. “He knows that I love playing sports and doing all of the activities. I know all the kids look up to me and I try to be a good role model for them.”
While Cespedes has enjoyed her time at the club, she wishes more teens would take advantage of its programs.
“I think it is underappreciated,’’ she said. “So many teenagers say to me, ‘You go to the Boys and Girls Club? Isn’t that for little kids?’ It’s really not. It’s a place teens can go to and hang out, and there are so many opportunities to grow and learn. It’s a great place to help teens for college.”
Cespedes says she’ll always have a place in her heart and her life for the Boys and Girls Club. “I want to work there this summer again,’’ she said. “And I’ll always come back to visit the kids.”