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Moving forward and giving back

Moving on and giving back | Buffalo MagazineDialo Rivera-Stevens is living proof that your past does not define your future. The young man was recently named the Boys & Girls Club of WNY 2018 Youth of the Year, leaving his troubled early teen years and gang activity long behind.

With nominees from 12 clubs around the region, Rivera-Stevens represented Butler-Mitchell Boys & Girls Club in Buffalo, where he found a second home — and a second chance.

“As they often do, a club leader took him under his wing and showed him he did not have to go down the wrong path,” said Christina Potempa, collaborative director for Boys & Girls Club of WNY. “Our mission is to help kids, particularly those who need us the most, by providing a safe, friendly environment where they can learn to be leaders and make a change in their community.”

Contributing to his win was previous recognition for most volunteer hours (spent tutoring at his clubhouse in 2017) as well as participating in after-school programming on the city’s West Side. He performed additional community service through Leadership Buffalo at Friends of Night People and with West Side Block Club on the Massachusetts Avenue Project.

“As I am climbing to new levels, it is important to reach back and do the same for others,” said Rivera-Stevens, a recent graduate of Riverside High School.

A motivational speaker, positive rapper and role model to those who want to turn their life around, he received a full scholarship to Medaille College, where he will study criminal justice in the fall.

“He’s a very responsible and mature 18-year-old with a great passion for the Club and for working with kids,” said Potempa.

As a junior staff member, he coached basketball, assisted younger Club members with their homework and encouraged them to stay away from bad influences. He also had the very meaningful opportunity to serve meals to less fortunate individuals in the community.

“Being a part of the Boys & Girls Club has truly been life changing for me in every way, from improving academically, to maturing emotionally, to finally discovering the real me that God designed me to be,” said Rivera-Stevens. “I am a living example of what this organization can do for a young person.”

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