Boys & Girls Club aids Valley youth through scholarship programs

SHELTON — The Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley provided 20 young people with more than $37,000 in college scholarships — a gift club officials say offers teenagers hope and opportunity.

Linda Welch, retired Shelton educator and long-time club board member, has led the club’s scholarship committee for some 30 years. Welch says the awards are given to Club kids planning to pursue higher education in college or a trade school.

“Sometimes kids need a boost to help them reach their full potential,” Welch said. “The Club is part of that solution, and the scholarship program can provide that much-needed boost. (I do this) knowing that some young boy or girl will have the opportunity for post-secondary education and will make a better life for themselves.”

Welch said she reviews dozens of applications and organizes the distribution of funds with Club staff and board volunteers. Valley students have attended a variety of colleges from Housatonic Community College to Yale University, in pursuit of a wide range of degrees over the decades.

“Linda has worked endlessly for the last 30 years to award well over half a million dollars in scholarship funds to local teens,” Boys and Girls Club CEO Shaye Roscoe said. “We are so grateful for her leadership and for the continued growth and success of the scholarship program to support Club kids as they reach their full potential through education.”

This year’s recipients include the Boys and Girl’s Club’s 2021 Youth of the Year, Siommorra Hill, who plans to attend New York University to pursue theater.

“This means so much to me,” Hill said through tears upon receiving her scholarship. “I’m just at a loss for words.”

Also among the 2021 scholarship recipients was Club kid-turned-staff member Alain Marcelin, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Post University.

“Wow,” Marcelin said, “this actually helped me graduate college, which is a huge achievement in my life, and for that I will always be thankful.”

Many of the scholarship recipients said they viewed their award as an opportunity to give back. Tiffany Brum, who received her third annual scholarship and who attends the University of New Haven, said, “With this money I can finish off my last years at the UNH and continue onto law school, which will allow me to help others.”

To donate to the Boys and Girls Club scholarship program or to become a club member, visit www.BGC-LNV.org.