By: Nettie Comerford
January 26th, 2017 marked the 70th anniversary of the Youth and Government State Competition. Fayruz Benyousef was one of this year’s keynote speakers. Benyousef is a professional fundraiser that works for non profit organizations such as helping schools, art programs, healthcare facilities and the YMCA raise funding necessary for their prosperity.
Benyousef has been close to the YMCA family since she was in high school. “At age 16, I had the opportunity to participate in our Youth and Government in Pennsylvania and starting out as a pager,” Benyousef said. From there, Benyousef worked her way up to running for the Governor’s position.
“At age 16, I had the opportunity to participate in our Youth and Government in Pennsylvania and starting out as a pager,” Benyousef said. From there, Benyousef worked her way up to running for the Governor’s position.
From there, Benyousef worked her way up to running for the Governor’s position.(how did she do this? how long did it take? what were other offices she held?) As Benyousef was getting ready for the North Carolina competition, (please be more specific about the North Carolina conference for readers that are not familiar with it) she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.
“I had tumors
my neck, one in behind my left lung. The one thing that was there for me were my Youth and Government friends,” Benyousef said.
Benyousef later spoke about the impact of the YMCA on the community.
“The YMCA is going to be in every community you may end up living in. They are serving tens of thousands of families and people who can’t afford a YMCA membership and that philanthropy of people giving…that’s what keeps the culture and life of the YMCA,” Benyousef said.
Delegate Julie Apagya-Bonney, has been a part of Youth and Government now for two years but has been a part of the YMCA ever since she was little. “The YMCA to me has always been something, whether or not it was Youth and Government or it was taking swimming lessons, it has always been an organization that has impacted the community and has continued to do that even now,” Bonney said. Bonney’s thoughts remained true after hearing Benyousef speak, “to me [the speech] resonated with the sense that if you’re in Youth and Government you just have to enjoy it and if you don’t, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity.”
Benyousef encouraged the crowd of delegates to not take what we learn from the competition lightly and soak up as much as we can, to learn about one another, compromise and “give a little to get a little,” Benyousef said.
“The thing that I never took for granted was the power of not only what I learned…but the friendships that I made and the strong bonds that I had with these friends and classmates that still hold true to today,” Benyousef said.