15-Year-Old Chosen By Boys & Girls Clubs Of Hartford For
March 28, 2005
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer
Hinds has a kind face, a thoughtful demeanor and a smile that
lights up the room. But the quality that really stands out in
this year's Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford "Youth of
the Year," is the passion he displays when talking about
what the club means to him.
"Here, I get a say so in everything," he said of the
club's Southwest unit, where he has been a member for about six
years. "I like the kids looking up to me and I like the
programs like Keystone. It helps me to become a leader, to get
to college. It helps me with myself."
Each year, a "Youth of the Year" is
selected from among club members nominated by club staff members.
Participants are required to write essays on leadership, home
and family, moral character, community involvement, school
and college, and service to the club. The essays must be supported
by two letters written on behalf of the nominee by friends,
teachers or the club's staff. The candidates are then interviewed
by a panel of judges.
Jeanne Milstein, the state child advocate, was one of this year's
judges. She said Kordell and all of the nominees have given her
hope, not only for the future of Hartford, but for its youth
"It was so inspiring to meet these wonderful young people," she
said. "He's just a terrific young man. He's so bright and
he is very gracious. I think he will be one of our great leaders."
After the interview, Kordell walked around the room and shook
every panel member's hand, said Milstein. But being polite was
obvious to Kordell, he said. It was other skills he had to work
on, and he got a few tips from his unit director Latonia Kendrick.
"Latonia made me practice ... how to stand, where to put
your hands, where my eyes are," he said. "That helped
me in the long run."
"I made him practice reading everything. Even cereal boxes," laughed
Kendrick, who nominated Kordell for the award. "It was evident
... his poise, his leadership stood out. The judges could see
it right away."
In addition to Youth of the Year, Kordell has been a basketball
coach at the club for younger members and excelled in SMART MOVES,
a drug, alcohol and teen pregnancy prevention program. As president
of Southwest's Keystone Club, Kordell leads fellow Keystone members
in the planning and implementation of activities in areas such
as service to club and community, leadership development, education
and career exploration, unity, free enterprise and social recreation.
"He's so strong and he is only 15," said Kendrick. "Can
you imagine what he will be like when he is 20? He will be so
This year, Southwest's Keystone
Club made it to the highest, Gold Level status. Getting gold
was one of the reasons why Kordell was selected to sit on the
steering committee that planned this year's Boys & Girls
Clubs regional conference in Orlando, Fla. He gets to attend
the conference, which is great, he said, but the Keystone Club
has helped Kordell in other ways too.
"As a group, we have to work together instead of arguing
about stuff," said Kordell. "We learn to respect each
Although he is quiet and thoughtful,
Kordell describes himself as aggressive. The Boys & Girls
Club has helped him to curb this aggressiveness, and when he
can't, he said he always apologizes for his behavior.
"If I wasn't here, I'd be doing what everybody else is
doing. I'd probably party or sell drugs ... just being stupid," he
"It's not a problem to
stay away from drugs because I'm here."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at