Whittier Tech Junior Destiny Alicea is only 16, but she delivered a speech that had 75 adults at a Rotary Club Luncheon waiting on her every word. Her topic was how the Haverhill Boys’ and Girls’ Club had sustained her through tough times and how she is already giving back by building an after-school baking program for members.
Destiny was named “Youth of the Year” at the club which only began accepting girls three years ago. Since receiving the honor, she has been a speaker at a Kiwanas’ Club meeting and the Rotary Luncheon last Thursday at Whittier’s restaurant, where Destiny studies culinary arts.
Baking is her specialty and a 15-page business proposal she wrote for the after-school program was enthusiastically approved by the club’s directors.
“I can honestly say it has been life changing,” she said. “And yes, that may sound a little over-exaggerated but it's not at all. The opportunities at the club are over the top. I walk into a safe, positive environment anyone would love.”
It has kept her from bad influences that often surround her, she said. “It has kept me away from the streets,” she said, “from all the alcohol and drugs being offered. I'm not going to lie, I’ve been offered drugs even walking home….but, being a member at the Boys & Girls Club made it easier for me to simply say ‘no’ and walk away.”
She explained how she was raised by her mom from age two because her dad was in jail. He came home when she was 12, “and just getting ready for my teenage life,” she said. “It was hard.” As time passed, however, her father became a source of strength for her, she said. “Watching him pick himself up from such a nasty fall and starting his own life over, being the strong, working, real man he is today has taught me to be a strong, independent young woman.”
She also credited her mother’s example of perseverance and strength. “She’s the reason I’d like to start my own business,” she said, smiling at her mom in the audience. “She has taught me to never change the person I am inside for anyone.”
After Whittier, Destiny hopes to attend Johnson & Wales University to further her studies in baking and business management. She clearly sees her own bakery – “Desi’s Delight” -- in her future. Rotary Club members let her know they have no doubt her dreams will come true. They gave her a standing ovation and rushed to shake her hand and congratulate her.
“It was inspiring and memorable,” said Frank Novak.
“You’re 16 now,” said Bill Klueber. “By the time you’re 26, you’ll have that ba