Hicksville youth brings leadership to local Boys and Girls Club
On Old Country Road, just across the street from IHOP, there is a white, unassuming building with basketball hoops and a hopscotch game in the parking lot. Inside, there are couches, games, chatter and laughter as neighborhood youths come together to work on homework, build friendships and find support in both their peers and mentors. This building, that you’ve probably driven past a thousand times without realizing its importance to the community, is the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club, built in 1972 and established as a local chapter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in 2001.
As stated on its website to be “a youth development, recreation, sports and leisure time activity program,” the Hicksville club offers young people everything from homework help and employment training to outdoor sports and a plethora of other structured supervised activities.
Sean Michael Joyce, a 17-year-old Hicksville resident who has been going to the club since he’s in sixth grade, recently received the club’s Youth of the Year Award, an achievement recognized by Senator Elaine Phillips. The Hicksville High School junior was invited to meet Phillips where she presented him with a legislative resolution commending and acknowledging everything he’s done for the Hicksville Boys and Girls Club and the steps he’s taken to be a successful young adult. Seeing his accomplishments written out and presented to him in an official document was something Joyce described as “a really cool moment.”
The resolution was adopted by the Senate on May 22, and Joyce was able to take the document home where he plans to frame and hang it in his bedroom to memorialize the momentous occasion.
The resolution pointed out Joyce’s academic success, such as maintaining honor roll and principals list, and being enrolled in advanced placement classes. It also noted his involvement in extracurricular activities like jazz band, the varsity baseball team and the school newspaper.
“Sean Michael Joyce’s maturity, steadfast dedication and his sincere ability to share his thoughts and talents have gained him much respect within the Boys & Girls Club of Hicksville,” the resolution stated. “Through his active involvement in the community and his sincere dedication to others, Sean Michael Joyce has become an exceptional role model for others.”
At the club, Joyce takes on a number of leadership roles, such as tutoring and leading club program activities. This summer, he will be running the Triple Play program, where kids are encouraged to spend the day outside taking part in sports activities rather than sitting inside. A position bestowed on Joyce because “that’s the responsibility Nick [the program director] trusted in me.”
For nearly six years Joyce has been a member of the club, marveling at how with each new member, the club grows and gains a little more culture. His presence has proved to be invaluable as he supervises younger members to ensure that any child who steps foot into the club’s building feels comfortable and is entertained.
“With his busy schedule, he still manages to step above and beyond and lend a helping hand when needed,” said program director Nicholas Singh. “Sean’s positivity, integrity and kindness make him the type of candidate that truly resembles what a Youth of the Year embodies. I have no doubt in my mind that his character will inspire others to be amazing role models.”
Joyce said he believes it’s his long-term involvement and respect for others that earned him the Youth of the Year award.
“I think I just became a familiar face to everyone,” he said. “Being respected and giving respect back has also led to [receiving the award], and just the relationship I have with everyone at the club.”
A symbol of the hard work he’s done and commitment he’s put into the club, the award has proved to Joyce how he’s grown as a person since becoming active with the group. As so many young people do, Joyce experienced bullying during his middle school years. The Hicksville Boys and Girls Club provided much-welcome respite from that.
“I always knew coming to the club would brighten up my day. Make it through the [school] day and next thing you know you’re at the club and it’s all fine and dandy,” he explained. “Nobody is going to really judge you [in the club] because it’s like a big family.”
As he approaches his senior year of high school this September, Joyce has plans to go to college for military science and to partake in an ROTC program. With his father having served as a marine for 20 years, Joyce wants to continue the work his father started.
“He’s been a big influence on my life with the military, so I’d like to continue that,” he said.
To find your local Boys and Girls club or to learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, visit bgca.com.