Joy Mejia is Youth of the Year


ALAMOSA—Joy Mejia will be attending Adams State University on a full-ride scholarship thanks to the generosity and support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley and ASU. The scholarship was part of the BGCSLV's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit that awarded Mejia the Youth of the Year award Tuesday morning.

Lisa Mix, last year's winner, was the runner-up. Alamosa City Councilor Kristina Daniel, ASU Assistant Professor Cheri Meder and Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Wright judged the event.

Guest speaker this year was Alamosa Police Chief Duane Oakes. He talked about the BGCSLV's mission and the impact it has in the Valley. "We need to recognize the good things youth are doing in the community," Oakes said.

Oakes said that the BGCLSV helped over 1,000 kids in 2016 and saw an average of 114 kids each day. He mentioned that it's partly because BGCSLV is open during the summer and holidays.

"It's great to have a place where children can go when parents are working so they aren't home alone," said Oakes.

The police chief also mentioned the volunteer work that he and his staff do at the club such as playing dodge ball, basketball and pool with the kids. "The less we have to deal with kids on the bad side, the more we can focus on the good side of our community," Oakes said. "As much free time as we get, we spend with the kids. They see us as normal people instead of just thinking of us as the people who show up when bad things are happening at home."

Oakes ended his speech with a quote by Frederick Douglass and said, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

Before presenting the Youth of the Year award, BGCSLV Chief Program Officer Claire Lara awarded Adrian Raya with the Junior Youth of the Year award. This year was the first the BGCSLV presented a Junior Youth of the Year award and it's reserved for BGCSLV members aged 10 to 13. Isaiah Avila was the runner up.

Raya, a seventh grader at Ortega Middle School, spoke about how BGCSLV gave him the foundational skills to be a leader. With the BGCSLV's programs, Raya has assisted on field trips, tutored other members, and helped at the humane society. He has a 4.0 GPA at OMS and participates in soccer, track and band.

Other Valley youth, who may or may not be members of BGCSLV, were also recognized. Arielle Sandoval, Amyas Maestas, Manuelito Casias, Isabella Griffin, Dean Martinez, Michael Ward and Mason Torr excelled both in and out of school.

Afterwards, Lara honored five BGCSLV members. Elijah Cardenas, Aiden Pintor, Zane Sullivan, Kason McMillan and Brianna Barrios shined in the BGCSLV's various programs.

There was also a show of support for BGCSLV employees and the new Teen Tech Academy.

Rio Grande Farm Park director Julia Mordecai lead the annual pledge drive like last year, however, she had some extra help from hip hop band The Flobots. Band member Stephen "Brer Rabbit" Brackett shared his own experience with after school programs in order to persuade attendees to donate. Brackett talked about how the program was vital in stimulating his mind and how it allowed him to give his parents, who were both suffering from cancer, a needed break.

"I doubt that I would be here without an after school program like the Boys and Girls Club," said Brackett. The Flobots also performed at a BGCSLV benefit concert held at ASU's Richardson Hall last night.

Mejia closed out the ceremony with her award-winning speech. She thanked the staff of BGCSLV for supporting her and her sister through difficult times. Through reading and writing, the club provided her an outlet for her depression.

"The damage my mother has done to me was unbearable and I didn't think I would get through it," said Mejia.

Photo captions:

Adams State University President Beverlee McClure awards Joy Mejia the Youth of the Year award at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning. The award includes a full-ride scholarship to ASU.

Cynthia Mejia, 11, Flobots band member Stephen "Brer Rabbit" Brackett and Carlos Gonzales, 11, sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning. The Flotbots also performed at a BGCSLV benefit concert held at ASU's Richardson Hall that night.

Alamosa Police Chief Duane Oakes speaks at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning. Oakes stressed the positive impact the club has on the community.

Adrian Raya gives a speech at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning. Raya won the Junior Youth of the Year award.

Arielle Sandoval, Amyas Maestas, Manuelito Casias, Isabella Griffin, Dean Martinez, Michael Ward and Mason Torr were recognized for their outstanding academic and extracurricular work at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning.

Aiden Pintor, Zane Sullivan, Kason McMillan and Brianna Barrios were recognized at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley's annual Celebration of Youth breakfast and benefit on Tuesday morning for their work in the club's programs. Elijah Cardenas was also honored but he was not present at the ceremony.

 

© 2018-Alamosa News

More In News