By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: April 2014
Salvation Army Youth of the Year Award winner Neariah Persinger celebrates with Faith Zackery and Bethany Jones, Jr., Youth of the Year nominees. All three are members of the Broken Arrow Club.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa build character by guiding area youth in everyday behavior and attitude. “Young people of all backgrounds are invited to join together in wholesome recreation and activities,” said Dustin Blackmon, unit director for the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Broken Arrow. Nationally recognized programs help young people succeed in school, stay healthy, learn important life skills, pursue interests in the arts and sports, and explore vocational choices. “And most importantly,” continued Blackmon, “our Boys & Girls Clubs help youth in the area become productive, responsible and caring citizens by providing an environment that is conducive to the development of their potential. The overall goal of the organization is for all young people to recognize that great futures start here, and they start now.”
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa held its annual Youth of the Year Awards Banquet on February 20 at the University of Tulsa Allen Chapman Activity Center. The evening was highlighted with presentations by the four finalists representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Candidates were Neariah Persinger, Broken Arrow; J’Day McIntosh, Mabee Red Shield; Devin Duckett, North Mabee; and Miana McHenry, West Mabee.
The 2014 Youth of the Year award winner is Neariah Persinger, a student at New Covenant Academy in Broken Arrow. “This is a great honor for Neariah,” said Blackmon, “and for the Boys & Girls Club of Broken Arrow.” Neariah is a delightful young lady who exudes personality. She’s a hard worker and full of energy. Her abundance of enthusiasm is contagious and makes you feel good when you’re in her presence.
“Neariah has been a member of the Broken Arrow Club for eight years,” said Broken Arrow Program Director Sa’Quita Burrell. “She’s a valued asset.” Neariah is in training for the Jr. Olympics and currently holds several Oklahoma swimming records in her specialties, the butterfly and freestyle. Her coach is her mom, who was an Olympic swimmer. Neariah says she hopes to one day represent the United States in the Summer Olympic Games.
David Litterell, executive director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa, made opening introductions at the awards banquet and a welcome was issued by Aaron Massey, club advisory council chairman. Major James Taylor, Salvation Army area commander, introduced the evening’s honored guest speaker, Major Clay Satcher, who brought the Boys & Girls Clubs to Tulsa. Major Satcher arrived here in 1946 and was responsible for the building of a gymnasium in downtown Tulsa in 1948, the beginnings of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs. Major Satcher expressed appreciation for the 60 wonderful years he spent in Tulsa. “If you love people and want to serve them,” said the Major, “the Salvation Army is a great place to do it.”
Danny Roe was the recipient of the first annual Clay Satcher Youth Development Award for his eleven years of service on the advisory board, for his hands-on approach to service, and for the many years he served as council president.
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Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.