Dez shows off his artworkDezmir “Dez” Phelps has been doodling since he can remember. He was recently recognized as the local and regional winner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Fine Arts Competition for his lifelike portrait of Malcom X. He has also won local art competitions, including the University of Rochester’s Department of Psychology Bridge Art Gallery’s “Transformation” contest where he drew a feather transforming into a bird.

“Drawing is an escape,” said Dez. “No matter the mood I’m in, I can always draw.”

A member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester since he was 5, Dez has always been engaged in Club programs and activities. He played in the Club’s Biddy Basketball league from the age of 6 to 12 – the full range of the program. In addition to being involved in basketball, Dez also participated in Cyclopedia, a bicycling program offered at the Club, and went to Culinary Camp at the New York Wine & Culinary Center, now the New York Kitchen.

Drawing isn’t Dez’s only artistic passion. He attended the School of the Arts (SOTA) for two years for acting when he was younger and revisited the performance art at SOTA for his final year of primary school.

An example for other Club members, Dez was the president of Keystone Club for over a year. Keystone Club is for members 14 to 18 years old and focuses on academic success, career preparation and community service. Dez attended both a National Keystone Conference in Orlando, Florida and a Regional Keystone Conference in Connecticut. He enjoys being a leader and encouraging his fellow teen members to make a difference at the Club and in their community.

Dez worked as a youth employee at the Club for several summers. He organized and oversaw a variety of Club activities. His focus and drive is perfect for his dream career – Dez wants to one day become a Chief Financial Officer.

Dez plans to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. for business and finance. Although he hopes to be out of state for his college education, he will always come back to the Club.

“The people I’ve met and made connections with at the Club have made it a second home for me,” said Dez. “There is a certain love and respect at this place where it just feels like second nature to be here.”