M2: Teen Jose Duarte provides inspirational company

Craig youth Jose Duarte a welcome sight for Boys & Girls Club kids

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“He basically made my day. I always looked forward to coming here to hang out with Mr. Jonathan. He was my mentor and taught me to treat every day as if it was my last.”

Jose Duarte, 16, about being inspired by his cousin Jonathan to become a junior staff member at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig

— A mentor can be easy to recognize.

They’re often found passing along their knowledge and skills to a sea of young people, or lifting the spirits of someone having a bad day.

When they’re not around, the people who have grown most accustomed to their company go searching for them.

On a recent Friday, Craig resident Jose Duarte, 16, a junior staff member at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, took a break from his duties to sit down with Moffat Monthly. The interview was routinely interrupted by children curious to learn why Duarte was not at his usual post in the gym teaching kids the game of soccer.

Duarte clearly commands a presence at the club, particularly for 6-year-old Deanna Floeter, who refused to leave the side of her friend, whom she calls Mr. Jose.

“He’s funny. I play soccer with him and he likes to play with people,” Deanna said.

There was a time not long ago when Duarte wasn’t the center of attention. As a child in Scottsbluff, Neb., Duarte said he was never the popular kid in school and sometimes found himself the focus of bullies.

Five years ago he moved to Craig with his father. His cousin Jonathan took Duarte under his wing and introduced him to the Boys & Girls Club.

“He basically made my day,” Duarte said. “I always looked forward to coming here to hang out with Mr. Jonathan. He was my mentor and taught me to treat every day as if it was my last.”

Two years ago Duarte became a junior staff member to carry on his cousin’s legacy and has made it a personal mission to make each and every child feel special.

For his dedication Duarte was honored in January as the 2012 Boys & Girls Club of Craig Youth of the Year.

“Jose is a passionate leader and a dedicated member of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig,” said Dana Duran, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado. “He is a natural leader, he talks and listens to members and above all Jose eagerly helps anyone in need.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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