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Hanscom’s ‘Youth of the Year’ announced

Hanscom’s ‘Youth of the Year’ announced

Cailey Epperson helps Morgan Gibson with an art project at the Youth Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., May 2. Epperson is the 2018 Hanscom Military Youth of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Maki)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Youth Center officials here recently announced the winner of the 2018 Military Youth of the Year.

Cailey Epperson, 18, a senior at Bedford High School in Bedford, Massachusetts, has been a member of the Hanscom Youth Center since 2013. The Military Youth of the Year honor is a component of the Boys & Girls Club of America National Youth of the Year program. It recognizes a Youth Center member on a military installation who has demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments.

“It’s humbling and exciting,” she said. “I like to know that I am a making a positive impact in this club and in this community.”

She relishes being a role model to the younger Youth Center members.

“One of the bigger events the Youth Center has for preteen girls is a ‘Smart Girls Lock In,’ which is a Boys and Girls Club initiative that helps girls realize their potential,” she said. “I serve as a presenter and answer questions from the girls attending.”

In addition to being an active volunteer at the Youth Center, Epperson has served the past two years as president of the Keystone Club. The Keystone Club is a teen leadership group for youth ages 13 to 18 that focuses on four areas: academic success, career preparation, community service and engaging teens. Members of this club aim to have a positive impact on other members, the club and community.

In her role as president, Epperson revived a tutoring program for youth at the center.

“This is important to me because in some cases both parents in the home are military and one parent may be deployed, leaving the other to serve as both parents,” she said. “If we can help their kids with homework, I think that helps them succeed.”

At Bedford High School, she was the driving force behind the creation of an animal advocacy group.

“The club is called People Against Animal Cruelty,” she said. “We help spread awareness about animal cruelty.”

This fall Epperson will attend the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, to study psychology and business.

The Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The program recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. Youth of the Year encourages club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities.

Epperson will now advance through state and regional competitions next month.

Justin Oliver, Youth Programs teen coordinator, spoke about this year's youth of the year.

“Cailey really understands her leadership role in the Youth Center, which is evident by how she works with her peers,” he said. “She really tries to set the standard for others to follow.”

Epperson’s sister, Caitlin, captured the same award in 2016.

The Youth Center is always looking for others of high merit who are outstanding members in their school and throughout the community to nominate as Youth of the Year. For further information, call the Youth Center at 781-225-6043.