Victoria Wise - Always in our Hearts
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady family suffered a tragic loss earlier this month when Victoria Wise, Fine Arts and Membership Coordinator at the Rotterdam Club, died suddenly on June 7.
Her journey with the Boys & Girls Club was simply incredible – a youth member since she was six-years-old, Victoria loved spending time at the Rotterdam Club where she could be herself and follow her passion in the creative arts. Growing up at the Rotterdam Club, she enjoyed meeting many other kids and teens from throughout Rotterdam. Victoria was able to follow her passions at the Club and find herself.
Victoria worked hard throughout her school years and spent many hours each week at the Club. She graduated from Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons High School where she excelled at swimming and softball. Victoria was an excellent student who spent many hours of her time at the Club helping younger members with homework and programming.
As a result of the years of hard work and caring for others at the Club, Victoria was named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady’s Youth of the Year- the highest honor a young person can achieve at a Boys & Girls Club world-wide. She earned this honor in Schenectady rising above four other strong candidates. However, her journey as Youth of the Year had just begun. Each Boys & Girls Club organization across the state sends their representative Youth of the Year to compete for the crown of New York State Youth of the Year in Albany annually. After going through the tough interview round, which includes an unscripted speech, Victoria learned that she was one of the final 3 candidates vying for a $10,000 scholarship and the NYS title. As it turned out, she finished 2nd by one point, earning a $2,500 scholarship! It was an incredible achievement for this young, energetic student and she was excited for the doors that were opened with this accomplishment. Title sponsor SEFCU offered Victoria a job on-the-spot immediately following the competition as a result of how impressed they were with her and her story. SEFCU’s team would play a huge role in Victoria’s life.
After accepting the job at SEFCU, Victoria worked in various positions, but loved being an Outreach Representative at SEFCU while attending Schenectady County Community College- where she became a graduate. When a job opportunity opened at the Club, it was too enticing for Victoria to pass up. She always viewed the Club as her home away from home and took on the Membership Coordinator position. She also wanted to be more hands-on with the kids, so was very excited to take on additional responsibility as the Fine Arts Coordinator, where she could explore and teach her love of the arts.
“Vicky blossomed into her position,” said Julie Rouse, Rotterdam Unit Director, “I was very proud of her,” she stated.
“Vicky was a great listener and had the ability to look at things from a different perspective,” said Nicole Smith, Program Director at the Rotterdam Club. Most recently, Victoria tackled a project to enter the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Recycled Materials contest with great enthusiasm. She worked diligently from start to finish, creating a plan, gathering materials, and executing the plan in great detail with the kids.
Youth member Michael said, “Do you know what Miss Vick taught us? To be ourselves.” This is what will forever live with the many people who were lucky enough to spend time with “Miss Vick” or “Miss Blueberry” as she was affectionately called by several of the kids.
The Rotterdam Club held a Celebration of Life on June 11, celebrating Victoria as she would’ve wanted- mermaid style! Echoing the generosity that she was known for, SEFCU amazingly made a $5,000 donation to honor Victoria’s memory which will provide a $500 annual Youth of the Year scholarship. This award was then very generously matched by the Wright Family Foundation, which when combined with SEFCU’s gift, provides a $1,000 scholarship annually for the Youth of the Year for 10 ten years, in loving memory of Victoria Wise.