Women who Inspire Us: Youth of the BGC

The Boys and Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield continues to celebrate National Women’s History Month by sharing stories of the women of our club history— those who have attended our clubs in the past, work or volunteer at our clubs today, and represent our youth as we move into the future.  

This part of our series focuses on the future of our Stoneham & Wakefield clubs.  We thank and acknowledge the following young women who inspire us everyday, and asked them to tell us their stories in their own words.

Sam Rexrode

Sam is a BGC Youth of the Year Recipient

My name is Sam Rexrode, I am a senior at Stoneham High School and I have been attending the Boys and Girls Club of Stoneham ever since I was eight! I currently live with my mom and I have always lived in Stoneham.

I have been swimming ever since I was four and started competitively swimming at 11. I joined Stoneham High School’s swim team in eighth grade as a varsity swimmer alongside being a club swimmer at the YMCA of Reading. My swimming career has had many halts in the road through health problems that I have faced, my parents going through a divorce, and problems dealing with stress and anxiety. These factors also affected me academically, but with the Boys and Girls Club being there as a constant positive factor in my life, I was able to get a handle of everything and have been on honor roll for the majority of my high school experience.

I love being a past Youth of the Year and employee of the Boys and Girls club of Stoneham, because now I get to hopefully be a good role model like I had to kids like me. My favorite memory of the club is summer camp. Playing my favorite games outside like Kickball, Spud, and Knockout, I learned card games like President, Spoons, and garbage. One of my past summer camp counselors taught my friend and I a “magic trick” with a deck of cards to show off to all of fellow campers, that we now use as staff to try and make the kids we have in our groups think we are cool.

Being at the Boys and Girls Club my practically whole life has made me the person I am today. Seeing women being represented in our society is important, and that is why I admire women like Kamala Harris, Billie Jean King, and Elizabeth Blackwell, for breaking the glass ceiling and allowing women a place that they might have never had before. They have shown that women have a right to be in politics, sports, and medicine. A message I would tell all of the girls at the Boys and girls club is to always make sure that your voice is heard and to never let people underestimate you. 

Alyssa Luise

Alyssa was names Youth Of The Year in
2018 and 2020.

My name is Alyssa Luise and I attended the Club as a member from 2013-2020 (12-18) and became a staff member in 2020-present. My main club that I attended was the Wakefield location, but I did spend a few hours a week at the Stoneham location. My current Group Leader position is at the Wakefield Club.

I am 19 years old, a recent graduate of the Class of 2020 at Reading Memorial High School. I am now in my first year at Salem State University looking to pursue a career in Social Work. My accomplishments that I am most proud of is being named The Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham & Wakefield. I am the first candidate to win the award two times, and win in the Wakefield Club. I was named The Youth Of The Year in 2018 and 2020.

My involvement with the clubs made a big impact on who I am today in numerous ways. It wasn’t solely the after school program aspect for me. It was the staff members who cared, the social workers who made bad into good, good into better! It was mainly people like Joey D’Alessandro who pushed me out of my comfort zone because he knew I could. It was the optimsm in him that led me to become Youth Of The Year. Joey has been a huge part of my involvement at the Boys & Girls Club as he still pushes me to succeed to this day, even as a staff member. I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done, as he has expanded my horizons. Joey helps me become a better leader each and every day and be a role model for the younger kids I work with. Watching Joey as I grew up made me want to continue to reach for the sky in everything I may do. After the Gala of 2018 Joey had said, “You’re a natural born leader, and the sky is your limit!” Two years later and that will always stick in my head for whatever I may do.

To me, the FAMILY initiative of The Boys & Girls Club is especially important. My favorite thing about the FAMILY acronym would have to be the M which stands for motivation. During the Holiday Season, in particular around Thanksgiving time The Boys & Girls Club will get a bunch of turkey dinners donated to us by Early Harvest. With those meals we then serve the dinners to our club families who may be in need, or may not be fortunate enough to have turkey with their family. Another initiative that I like to take part in during the holiday season is the Santa’s Sleigh event in December. Santa’s Sleigh is a big club event that we like to take part in whenever we can. Also, in Santa’s Sleigh we collect items such as toys, games, clothes, sporting equipment and then we wrap them up and give them to families who may be in need. Those two things motivate me to give back to my community!

I am very fortunate to have role models in my life both with the club and beyond the Club.  Outside of the Club my role models would be my cousin Brittany and my family friend Penny aka my second bonus mother. I admire these people because they are very special to me. A big accomplishment happened in 2016 and then again in 2019. In 2016, I was in my last year of Reading Pop Warner Cheerleading. It was my last competition as a participant forever, my last one for the season. The nerves running through my body before we stepped on that mat were unmatched. Brittany as an alumni cheerleader herself wished me good luck and helped me lose the nerves. Penny was the director of Reading Pop Warner that

year. Before we went on that mat, she was comforting and gave me a hug to wish me luck. Shortly after, it was time for awards and they announced that my team was going to Nationals in Disney. In Disney we placed 2nd out of 12 teams, and got the highest jump score of the whole day. Brittany and Penny were both very supportive that I made it to Disney and they made me feel really good on the inside! In addition, in 2019 I coached the Arlington Spy Ponders. In the last competition my girls had made it to Disney. I was very excited for the girls and excited to go to Disney again as a coach. Throughout the whole experience both Brittany and Penny were very supportive. Penny was a role model in Disney because she helped me with packing, driving me to or from practices, giving me advice on different things I could do with the kids while not competing. She has been there as a coach before. Overall, I am blessed with Penny to still be this close with her and blessed to have Brittany as a cousin. I hope to be half the role models they are someday. 

Thank you to our Stoneham and Wakefield youth for inspiring us and all the young women of the communities we serve!