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Front-of-house director Samauji Bell returns to his Boys & Girls Clubs roots
Samauji Bell joined a Chick-fil-A® restaurant as a delivery driver during the COVID-19 pandemic. He didn’t know it then, but that choice has been life-changing as he’s since moved through the ranks to become a Front-of-House Director at Chick-fil-A Arcadia near Phoenix. It’s much like another choice he made years earlier as a member of the Barker Branch of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottdale.
Growing up with Boys & Girls Club
Samauji and his siblings relied on their local Boys & Girls Club as a safe place while his parents worked hourly jobs. When he was in the fifth grade, the club presented him with the chance to apply for a full scholarship to Loyola Academy—a private boys school opening in another part of town. At first, he resisted. It meant leaving his Scottsdale neighborhood friends and going to a year-round school miles away, but he decided to make the change, alongside two of his local Boys & Girls Club buddies.
“My mom moved to America from Mexico hoping to find better opportunities for herself and our family,” he says. “Attending this new school was a chance to improve not only my standard of living but also my family’s.”
Embracing educational opportunities
When Samauji and his peers entered Loyola, their test scores weren’t as strong as other sixth graders. But when he graduated in the eighth grade as Loyola’s Scholar Athlete, he was ahead of his peers. This led to another scholarship for Brophy College Preparatory Academy, a high school that would have been out of reach for his family without a full ride.
While at Brophy, he embraced the school’s mantra: “A student is someone who has to go to school, but a scholar is someone who wants to go.” Samauji adopted this philosophy and set out to be the first in his family to graduate from college. The staff at Brophy helped him apply for financial aid and he once again earned a scholarship to Arizona State University, where he graduated with a degree in Sports Business.
That full-circle moment
“The reason I’m excited to build a career with Chick-fil-A is I believe in what they are doing in the community,” Samauji says. Which brings us to his full-circle moment standing in the gym at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley. There, along with his Chick-fil-A Leadership Team, he helped present a $200,000 Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Awards® grant, which the organization will use to fund its healthy lifestyles and academic success programs.
“I am who I am because of Boys & Girls Clubs,” Samauji told the young audience. “They accepted me for who I am, then gave me the confidence and encouragement to keep pushing.”
One day, Samauji hopes to open a basketball gym for the next generation of kids like him. It’s something that seems possible as he continues to stay active in Chick-fil-A's philanthropic endeavors.
The Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Awards program began in 2015. Since then, the company has awarded $27.8 million to high-impact nonprofits in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley was one of 51 grantees in 2024. Read more about our other winners here.