By Jon Bishop
Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG — No one was surprised when the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster named Ebony Fagan, an incoming senior at Fitchburg High School, its Youth of the Year.
Except, of course, for Ebony Fagan.
Fagan, who received a free lunch Saturday at the Fitchburg 99 Restaurant & Pub, said she participates in numerous activities, like the Boys & Girls Club leadership program “Keystone,” because she likes to help people and have fun, not for any sort of recognition.
“I think I like doing the community service the most,” she said.
Her family, as well as Boys & Girls Club staff, saw it coming.
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“I was happy for her. I think she really deserved it,” said Domanique Dudley, her sister who will also be a senior at Fitchburg High School. “I secretly knew (Ebony) was going to get it.”
Her other sister, Desarae Dudley, said Ebony is “really determined at everything she does.”
Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central Massachusetts, also praised the recipient.
“(Ebony) is a hard worker at the club, so she was a natural selection for Youth of the Year,” she said, adding that “(Ebony) is going places.”
“She will be successful at whatever she does,” she said.
Fagan’s mother, Jeanette, said her daughter has “just come a long way.”
When she was young, she used to struggle a lot, but then “she just woke up one day and she was this amazing person with all these goals.”
JD Seedorff, general manage of the Fitchburg 99, has had a “long affiliation with the Boys & Girls Club.”
“Everyone that wins this thing — they’ve done remarkable things,” he said.
Fagan, who joined Boys & Girls Club in 2012, said she would like to attend Fitchburg State University once she finishes high school. There, she plans on studying music performance and psychology.
She wouldn’t have joined the club if it weren’t for her sisters, she said. They have been members for a long time.
According to a press release from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, to be chosen as a candidate, Fagan had to complete three essays on a variety of topics, including on what the club has meant to her. She also had to collect letters of recommendation from several of her mentors and leaders.
The release said she completed these requirements and brought her portfolio to Boston, where she competed against the other 36 Massachusetts Youth of the Year candidates.
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the Boys & Girls Club’s way of recognizing members who embody leadership, service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles, the release said.