By Amy Nile Herald Writer
LYNNWOOD — Spencer Graham, 18, is a senior at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood. The Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County recently named him Youth of the Year. He now is set to go on to compete for the statewide title. If he wins, he could continue to regionals and nationals. The national Youth of the Year has an opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama.
Question: How does it feel to be named Youth of the Year by the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County?
Answer: It’s pretty amazing, honestly. I didn’t think I was going to win.
Q: What would you do if you’re chosen to meet with the president?
A: My grandma said when I go to the White House she’s going to have to buy me a tux. I think I’d ask the president to play one-on-one basketball. I’m not into politics so that’s the first thing I’d ask him.
Q: How did you get involved with the Boys &Girls Club and what has that experience been like?
A: I’ve been around the club for 8 years. I got involved when my mom and dad split. My mom needed a safe place for me to go. I joined the basketball team and started going after school. The Boys &Girls Club was a huge stress relief for my mom.
Q: You’re now the Keystone Club president at the Alderwood Boys &Girls Club?
A: Yes, it’s a group of 14 to 18 volunteers at the club. We do service projects that help out the community. Our goal is at least one global cause and one community cause.
For our global project, we’re selling bracelets for Free the Children. It helps families overseas pay school supplies, healthcare, clean water, food and financial tools for women who want to start a business.
For our community, we did Stuff the Bus during the holidays. I was amazed at how full that bus got. Now, we’re doing an all middle school dance. We’re trying to get over 500 people to come. It brings community and helps people get to know each other.
Q: You’re also a summer camp volunteer for the Boys &Girls Club?
A: Last year, I did counselor-in-training during sports camp swim week. It made sense because I’m a lifeguard at the Lynnwood Recreation Center and senior year I was on Meadowdale swim team. I never did a high school sport before but I just gave it a shot and started to like it. It ended up being a great experience. I lost weight and I met a bunch of people. It was something new and to be supportive of your school was pretty cool.
Q: What other activities are you involved in?
A: I’ve played on a baseball team for 6 years total. I’ve been playing since I was 8 or 9. I’m on the Mountlake Terrace Youth Athletic Association’s Texas Rangers.
Q: I hear you’re good with both kids and adults. What’s your philosophy for dealing with people?
You’ve got to laugh a lot. I’m happy and I don’t like people being down. I try to be positive and help people.
Q: I also understand you’re an excellent leader. Tell me about how you gained that reputation.
A: If you love something or care about a passion, just keep going and don’t give up.
Q: Who are the most influential people in your life?
A: My mom and I became best friends after she left my father. She’s one of the strongest people I know and she works hard. My grandma has also been very instrumental.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: I want to be a drug and alcohol counselor so others don’t go down the wrong path. My family has struggled as a result of substance abuse issues. I like helping people. I don’t want them to have to go through what my mom and I went through. I plan to start my studies at Edmonds Community College and transfer from there after two years.
Q: I understand you manage to keep an upbeat and positive attitude despite obstacles in life. How do you maintain that outlook?
A: I have a very big heart. I’m very caring and I like helping other people before myself. That’s just me. I have a job, good grades and really my drive every day is to live life like it’s a new day.
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.