*Denzel Washington’s history with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America added a new chapter as he was on hand to introduce the organization’s National Youth of the Year winner, Whitney Stewart, during its annual gala in in Washington, DC. on Tuesday (Sept. 29).
Despite an uber successful acting career with two Oscars earned, and serving as the club’s national spokesman since 1992 and on the organization’s national Board of Governors since 1995, Washington was more impressed with Stewart and her accomplishments.
The Huffington Post notes the University of Pennsylvania freshman served as the president of her local club’s teen leadership group in Florida, in addition to being on the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Teen Advisory Board. Stewart’s future looks bright and plans to pursue a career as an attorney in the U.S. Air Force. Building off that, the coming years will find Stewart tackling a career in politics and academia.
“I’m proud of this young lady, I’m proud of all the young people that I had the opportunity to meet over the years at the Boys & Girls Club,” Washington told the Post. “And if in any way, I was any kind of influence then I’m happy for that. But just as equally, I’m just proud of what they’re doing, and I have the opportunity to pass the baton — so it is now in Whitney’s hands and in their hands.”
High on Stewart’s agenda is community service, something she says she is “determined and focused” on continuing.
For her part, Stewart says she’s “determined and focused” to continue her community service. “That’s going to be something that’s always going to be a constant in my life,” Stewart shared to HuffPost. “It’s so important to build the people around you up, so that they can be successful to. What’s the value of being successful if you can’t build others up to be successful themselves?”
As the National Youth of the Year, Stewart was awarded $145,000 in academic scholarships. Overall, the Youth of the Year participants for this year were awarded more than $1 million in scholarships.
For Washington, the Boys & Girls Club has provided him with many moments and important life lessons learned, some of which are simply to keep things “simple.”
“Life is not as complicated as we make it out to be. We’re not as important as we think we are,” the former Boys & Girls Club member shared. “The lessons I’ve learned and the things that I recall is just lessons of humility, working hard, having goals, and trying to achieve those goals.”