Apr. 8—Every day that Princess Lovett attends the virtual learning program at the Olivet Boys & Girls Club, the staff there notices her leadership, kindness and maturity.
She helps her siblings and friends with their school work, is quick to volunteer for whatever the club needs to get done and pitches in on community projects.
It's those qualities that earned the 14-year-old Reading girl the organization's Youth of the Year award for 2021, Olivet has announced.
The award is designed by Boys & Girls Club of America to highlight outstanding teen club members, and Lovett was one of four Olivet youths nominated as candidates. A rigorous application process culminated with each candidate presenting a speech and answering interview questions from a panel of judges, with Lovett chosen as the winner.
The Reading High School ninth grader belongs to Olivet's Pendora Unit and was nominated by Pendora Director Dejalyn Ware.
"Princess is just phenomenal. She's a huge help around the club," Ware said. "She takes on so many responsibilities it's amazing."
For example, over the summer Lovett helped bag and distribute food Olivet gave out regularly to families in need.
"She has goals and ambitions, and she's a real go-getter," Ware said. "I've worked with a lot of kids, and she is one of the most responsible I've ever met."
Lovett is already an advocate in her community, too. She and a group of her peers formed the group "Girls Supporting Girls. Period," which addressed the issue of menstrual equity in her school. Thanks to their work and that of the youth volunteer corps VOiCEup Berks, of which she's also a member, Reading's Southern Middle School now provides feminine hygiene products to students from the nurse's office.
She credits some of her sense of responsibility to her large family. She is a middle child with seven siblings, two of whom have special needs, and helping to take care of them when her mom was working has taught her a lot, she said.
Lovett's plan after graduation is to earn a law degree from Harvard University, work as a lawyer to help those treated unfairly within the criminal justice system, then attend Stanford University to learn to write a book about her experiences and bring attention to inequality.
Winning the Olivet award qualifies Lovett for the Youth of the Year Pennsylvania State Competition, where she will compete with teens from other local Boys & Girls Club organizations statewide.
Katharine Royer, Olivet's vice president of programming, said club officials were impressed by how Lovett seems to have her future figured out, how she works each day to achieve those goals and how she's involved in her community.
"It's so awesome," Lovett said of the award, which she hopes will bring attention to the good things being done at Olivet.
The following were the other Olivet finalists for Youth of the Year:
— Isai Lopez (Grace Lutheran site).
— Ryanna Hightower-Prentice (PAL Club).
— Zahavah Oliveras (PAL Center for the Arts Club).