BBYO alums gather to reminisce

About 45 BBYO alumni came together on Jan. 11 to reminisce, mingle and drink at Hawthorne on U Street in Washington. (Photos by Hannah Monicken)

Kara Frank remembers her days in the BBYO youth movement — the trips to conventions, sneaking from one hotel room to the other to visit friends and staying up until 2 a.m. talking.

“It gave me some of my best friends,” said Frank, now 27. “And the skills, in the broadest sense — I learned to work on teams and manage my time and communicate.”

Frank was one of about 45 BBYO alumni who came together at the U Street bar Hawthorne on Jan. 11 to reminisce and mingle.

“I just remember getting to hang out with my friends and getting to do all these activities and now getting to reminisce with all the same people,” said Jason Horowitz, 30, who is originally from Allentown, Pa., and moved to Washington last week.

Horowitz still cherishes the time his BBYO region won the award for the most spirited group, the Spirit Gavel, at the international convention. He was BBYO president at the time, making the experience even sweeter, he said.

The Spirit Gavel loomed large in the alums’ recollections of the alums. At one point, Jacob Janofsky, 26, told Eric Langer, 26, that he remembered Langer winning in a duck costume 10 years ago.

“That was me 100 percent,” Langer said. “Like all weekend.”

Jeni Willenzik, 25, who belonged to BBYO in Charlotte, N.C., added that being a part of BBYO meant lifelong membership — you could find fellow members wherever you went.

“I moved to a new city and I didn’t know anyone, but I instantly had connections,” Willenzik said.

Janofsky added he went on a business trip recently and found people he hadn’t seen in a decade and texted them to hang out.

They all had a great time together, he said.

Most agreed with Horowitz, who said BBYO “was the best thing I ever did.”

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