West End House is excited to announce Cole Marden as our 2017 Youth of the Year! This club-wide recognition program celebrates the dedication and achievements of some of our most outstanding young people. Club members who want to be considered for this honor participate in a rigorous application and interview process led by a panel of West End House community members. This year, the panel included West End House Board Member Chris Murphy, Health & Wellness Coordinator Katie Belusa, and West End House alumna Jasmine Clark.
Cole first joined West End House in 2006 at the age of six, and since has grown into a caring, resilient mentor and role model for West End House youth. Now a senior at Mary Lyon Pilot High School, Cole’s participation has evolved from early experiences of spending time in the Games Room and Education Center to becoming a well-respected Peer Leader as part of our teen employment initiative.
As a youth, Cole was inspired by Isaiah, a role model of his who worked as a Peer Leader in the Education Center. Cole knew that one day he would work as a Peer Leader to connect with youth in the same way that Isaiah connected with him.
“My favorite part about being a Peer Leader is forming relationships with the kids,” says Cole, who works as a Peer Leader in the gym. “I like supporting the kids here and being a role model.”
Cole’s supervisor in the gym, West End House Sports & Fitness Coordinator Dan Finta, is proud of Cole for receiving this award. “Cole is an incredible mentor for so many West End House youth,” says Dan. “He has a unique ability to relate to kids of all backgrounds and ability levels. He is a hard worker, and brings maturity and integrity to everything he does.”
Cole will begin college this fall in pursuit of a career as a Registered Nurse, and hopes to one day serve in the Peace Corps in Asia. “I love to help people,” says Cole, of his interest in nursing. “I want to help people not only in my country, but in parts of the world where people need support the most.”
Congratulations, Cole! We wish you the best as you work to achieve your goals. West End House will always be here to support you along the way.