By Ginger DeShaney
The Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club helped shape Brendan Frize into the amazing young man he is today.
“Ever since I started spending time there at age 8, it’s been a big part of my life,” the son of Christine and Liam Frize said. “The Club has definitely prepared me for life … by teaching me tons of skills like leadership, honesty, and to be confident and outgoing” as well as responsibility, accountability, and empathy.
Taking all those lessons to heart and incorporating them into his life set up Brendan to become the Edgerley Club’s Youth of the Year.
“I was really excited when I got the call,” he said. “I was happy that I was able to represent the Club and that they chose me.”
As the South Boston Club winner, Brendan competed for the Boston Youth of the Year. “Sadly, I was not chosen for that one, but I was told I did very well, which I was proud of myself for,” he said. “I was really proud that I was … able to compete this far. It was a true accomplishment just to be the South Boston [Youth of the Year].”
Brendan will continue to build on this honor: “I will definitely always remember the Boys & Girls Club; they basically made me who I am today by giving me all these skills and opportunities to be successful. For that I will always be grateful for them.”
The Club’s announcement regarding the honor noted: “[Brendan] represents the character, resilience, and dedication that we look to instill in all young people at our Club.”
Kristine McNulty, the Club’s Teen Engagement and Retention Coordinator, said, “Brendan is a really great kid who we were lucky to work with. He is super hard-working, super kind, really cares about his community. He wants to do the best he can with everything he does. That will serve him well.”
To be eligible for Youth of the Year, a member has to be a senior in high school who has been coming to the Club for a long time and been involved in different activities. The member has to be “a good example of the work the Club does,” Kristine said. Three seniors were nominated this year and each had to write two essays, complete an interview, and compose a speech.
Brendan, a senior at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, is a total “Club Kid.” He started in the after-school program. “I went in one day and I started to slowly explore a little bit …” Brendan said. Initially he used the homework room a lot, then branched off to see what other areas of the club had to offer.
“As I got more comfortable in the Club, I was able to reach out a little more and have fun with kids and start to make a lot more friends,” he said, noting he met his best friend, William, at the club at the age of 8.
As he got older, Brendan gravitated toward community service programs, including Torch Club (for pre-teens) and Keystone (for teens). One thing that stood out for Brendan was a Valentine’s Day project the group did at Marion Manor in which they handed out Teddy bears with hand-written messages inside.
After time on the swim team, Brendan became a Junior Staffer as a lifeguard at the Club, “which allowed me to have a positive impact on younger Club members and connect with them.”
Brendan went on the Explore India trip in February 2020. The India trip was a good opportunity to show off all the skills he learned in the Club, Kristine said. “He was really fearless over there and very much took on a leadership role.”
“It was a great trip. It’s definitely one I’ll remember for my lifetime,” Brendan said. “It opened my eyes so much. It was a reality check, in a way, to not take anything in life for granted. It’s so easy to get lost in your day-to-day life that when you do look through someone else’s view and how they are living on a daily basis, it’s like an awakening, almost.”
He learned a lot about himself during the trip. “I learned that I’m able to sit through a 13-hour flight,” he joked. “I learned how to be more outgoing and to try new things because that was the whole trip almost. Every single time you did something, you were trying something new.
“Through that trip I was able to learn how to be more of a leader,” he added. The members kept daily journals and were asked to share with the group, if they were comfortable. “Everyone was nervous to share,” Brendan said. “I was able to break the ice by going first and saying, ‘Hey, this is what I thought.’ ”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brendan was at the club pretty much every day of the week. Now that he’s back in school in person, he tries to go to the Club as much as possible.
Brendan, who has all A’s and B’s in school, is deciding between Bunker Hill Community College and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to become an electrician.
After high school, he promises to volunteer as much as he can at the Club, “to give back for what they’ve given me.”