SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- The Boys and Girls Club has a special place in the heart of Alissa Schilling.

Growing up in Springfield, Schilling would go to the Musgrave unit of the Boys and Girls Club. Now, she attends that same unit but as a mentor.

“I’m working at the Musgrave unit, the one where I mostly grew up in. So I’m able to see kids grow up in the same unit that I did,” says Schilling.

Now a freshman at Missouri State University, Schilling has the club to thank to help get her to where she is today. Just this year, Schilling was awarded Missouri’s Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. With that recognition came several scholarships.

“I don’t think I would have went to college. In my family, a lot of our family does not go to college, let alone finish high school, so this was kind of a big deal,” she says.

Schilling would go to the Musgrave unit to escape the worries of her home situation, which included financial struggles and domestic abuse.

“This is kind of a hot spot area for those kind of situations, so when I dealt with personal situations within those categories, and it was a place that I could kind of decompress.”

Schilling searched to find someone to serve as a mentor for her and help her through her struggles as a second-grader; that’s when she found Karen Midfeldt.

“I connected with her from a young age, right around when I started going to the club about second grade. I kind of had that automatic connection.”

Midfeldt has been working for the club for 11 years and is currently on the kitchen staff.

“God put me here for a reason, and Alissa was my reason, so far. I’m blessed with her,” says Midfeldt.

Midfeldt says she would spend about an hour a day helping Schilling work through her problems. Since she was able to help Schilling, Schilling is now working to pay it forward.

“There’s clubs all over, so I can always go and volunteer my time to make sure I’m just a part of this,” she says.

Schilling plans to pursue graphic design at MSU and says her love of arts came from many after school activities the Boys and Girls Club provided.