2020 Youth of the Year Abel Cordero

Abel Cordero spent his early childhood in a neighborhood fraught with gang violence until his mom moved his family to Minnesota in search of a better, safer life for her kids. When he was in fifth grade, Abel’s mother enrolled him at the Eastside Boys & Girls Club. Those first few days felt overwhelming to him, but, little did he know, his time at the Club would become his support system and second home. Abel developed some strong friendships at the Club that helped build his confidence and a sense of belonging amidst transition taking place elsewhere in his life. Over the past year, Abel has begun to pay his Club family forward by stepping up in servant leadership. He was instrumental in helping build out the garage for the construction trades program. He decorated and organized activities for the Halloween party, and he served as a co-emcee for the Youth Arts Initiative holiday showcase.

Through Boys & Girls Club programs like Career Launch and Junior Staff/Volunteer Career Development Program, Abel developed the skills he needed to get his first job at Target. Abel works there while juggling a full high school schedule and daily time at the Club. While Abel struggled in school in the past, he now realizes how important academic success is. He has improved his grades dramatically over the past year, and he is committed to graduating on time from Sauk Rapids High School in 2021 and getting his degree in criminal justice to become a police officer. Abel has raised his personal standards for success, thanks to the expectations his Club role models have set for him.

“The Club has helped me become the man I am today,” said Abel. “Without my Club family, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“Abel has experienced more transition in his young age than many of us have, and yet I have seen him grow and mature into a selfless leader,” said Eastside Unit Director Tony Bown. “Because Abel is getting the care he needs, he is now confident in his ability to support others. I look forward to watching Abel’s great future unfold.”