WEST FORSYTH -- A Forsyth County teen has been recognized for his efforts with a local non-profit.
Austin Kalar, a sophomore at West Forsyth High School, was recently named the 2016-2017 teen Leader of the Year for the Forsyth County YMCA and will be honored in January at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta Celebration of Community Champions at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.
“It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever won, so I was pretty excited about it and I really wasn’t expecting it,” Kalar said. “I’ve never accepted an award in front of that many people before. It’s exciting, but I’m nervous.”
Kalar said he began coming to the Forsyth County Family YMCA when it opened about a decade ago but became heavily involved a few years later.
“I first became a member in 2006. I think it was the year that it opened, and I kind of fell out of it for about five years. Then I ended up coming back as a volunteer,” he said. “It was originally just for Junior Beta for community service hours, but I kind of fell in love with volunteering.”
In addition to winning the award, Kalar also serves on the Forsyth County Teen Leader Committee as secretary and treasurer.
“It kind of feels like a family because there is no tension between anyone,” he said. “There’s nothing really around here with that atmosphere except the YMCA.”
He said being a part of the local YMCA gave him the opportunity to do “a lot of really cool things.”
“I’ve mainly volunteered at the Spark Room, which is a youth afterschool program, and I help out with sports and activities,” Kalar said.
“Through the teen leader program we go on community service like Operation Christmas Child [where] you fill up shoe boxes and send them to places all over the world, and we’ve also delivered cookies to Forsyth County firefighters.”
Kalar said he believes his work with the YMCA will aid him in his future goals.
“I eventually want to become a mechanical engineer,” he said. “I feel like this leader program is really going to help me through college and my career with leadership skills and just giving me more confidence to do what I want to do.”