‘The best thing that ever happened to me’

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Zayllianny Mojica smiles a lot.

The 18-year-old’s grin gets particularly wide when she is asked what belonging Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland has meant to her. “It changed my life,” she says. “I learned English.  I got a second family.  I had somewhere safe to go every day after school while my mom was working.  I have had opportunities here that I could have never imagined had I not been involved with the Club.”

The girl who did not speak English until the sixth-grade graduated with honors from Cleveland’s Lincoln West High School, then enrolled in Cuyahoga Community College. The girl whose family lived in and out of New York City homeless shelters after arriving from Puerto Rico found a supportive community in Cleveland.  And her once-cloudy future is now filled with hope and opportunity.

Zayllianny, who was named BGCC’s Youth of the Year, knows she could be in a much different place. “Joining Boys & Girls Club,” she says, “was the best thing that ever happened to me and my family.”