Youth of the Year
Sponsored by The Reader's Digest Foundation, the National Youth of the Year Program is designed to promote and recognize service to Club and community, academic performance and contributions to family and spiritual life. Competition begins with each Club selecting a Youth of the Year who receives a certificate and medallion then enters state competition. State winners receive a plaque and $1,000 scholarship then enter the regional competition. Each of the five regional winners receives a $10,000 scholarship and enters the national competition held in Washington, DC. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 scholarship, totaling $26,000 in scholarships, and is installed by the President of the United States.
The Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City
"Youth of the Year"
Martin Meza is the second oldest of 5 children in the Meza house hold. (Add Mom & Dad Info) Martins siblings are Monica Meza (16), Julissa Meza (11), Jasmine Meza (9) & Jose Meza (6). Most teens his age would be more focused on friends and hanging out but Martin is not your typical teen. He has proven to be a leader at the Club as well as home, being the second oldest isnít as hard as being one of two boys in a house with three sisters. Martin always tries to be the voice of reason, the one that his siblings can go to and the first one to step up and be the role model to everyone else. Besides the weekly chores they all have, Martin goes out and to get small odd jobs to make a little pocket change. Every time he gets paid for something he always goes home and give half of his earnings to his mother, in his words ďevery little bit countsĒ For martin helping out his family is always first, he has sacrificed a lot in order to help. These decisions of sacrifice has always been Martinís, he know how hard his mother and father work to provide for their family and he just wants to help as much as he can even if it is giving them twenty dollars of what little he got paid. Martin always makes sure that he keeps his parents informed and involved, to him without that connection he would fall into situations that most teens are struggling with now. Currently the economy has affected Martins family, with only one parent working Martin is starting to see the struggles that his parents are going through. With his father going to Mexico more because of lack of work he is taking the role as the man of the house. To Martin it hurts him not having his father around as much but he understands the reason for the trips to Mexico and he know that he has to do more to support his family in this time of struggle.
When you speak about moral character you are definitely speaking about Martin, not only does he display characteristics of a leader, advisor and a dedicated person but you can see that he lives by the golden rule ďTreat Others The Way You Would Like To Be TreatedĒ from the minute that he walks into the club he makes sure that he goes to every staff and greats them with a hello and /or a hand shake. Martin is always polite and willing to lend a hand if itís through playing a game of soccer, running a game room tournament or helping a member with their homework. He is always taking the role of a leader. But his moral character doesnít stop at the club, he always uses great judgment at school. Martin is the one in the group that helps his friends even if he knows they are wrong, he always tries to be the voice of reason. Many of his peers look at him for advice and guidance and the funny thing about this is that Martin has no idea why they do. To Martin he is doing nothing but being himself and treating others the way he would want to be treated.
Being a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City has given Martin the opportunity to experience new things. One thing that he enjoys is giving back to the community, if itís taking part in the 4th of July festivities at city hall by working an information booth or helping with the cleanup at the Cathedral City Healing Fields. Martin has always said ďIf it wasnít for the Club I donít think I would be the person that I am nor would I know how important it is to be involved with your community. Martin involvement in the community has been based on help, he says ďThe community has many thing going on, instead of creating something new why not help to make the community events more successfulĒ. Martin is the recruiter for the club, once a city event is announced he goes to work to help recruit members to help at the event. Sometimes itís him and his siblings and sometimes its him and fifteen teen regardless he is always there.
Martin Meza is a young man that doesnít just do things to make others happy, he dose them because thatís who he is. He always greets everyone, students and faculty with a smile on his face. Martin is very helpful, he currently is a teacherís assistant for one of the Physical Education teachers on campus. As an athlete, Martin loves to be outside and on the field. Being a teacherís assistant requires Martin to have Two periods of Physical Education; one period where he participates, the other where his sole job is to help the teacher, be it setting activities, demonstrating, or helping on a team. Academically, Martin has mostly Aís and Bís. He attends tutoring every Thursday after school to make sure all of his assignments are complete as well as receiving help on whatever he does not understand. You can clearly see that Martinís life is very important to him, not just his friends and sports but he prides himself at being successful academically as well.
Martin Meza has demonstrated great leadership and service for the club by being involved with L.I.T, (Leaders in Training) torch club, sport activities, coaching and assisting staff. Martin has always made new members feel welcome by going up to them and introducing his self, it never matters to him if the new member is of different race or of different economic status he always made sure to make them feel part of the club. There is not one member or staff that is not willing to ask martin for help in whatever situation it maybe, because everyone knows that martin will never say I am too busy, or no, I will not help you. He is your player that will help an opposing player up when he falls, teach a player that is struggling with a kick, and be your friend when you need one. Throughout his 4 years at the club martin has assumed many jobs within the club for example signing in/out members, tutoring in education center, and being a coach for indoor kickball. Martinís involvement with the club is not only his good character but also his ability to participate in activities whether it is in the art room, education center, sports or game room. Martin has participated in countless activities in the gym, indoor soccer league, football, kickball and basketball. He has also been involed in the photography program, power hour, king of the hill tournament, ping pong tournament, foosball tournaments and pool tournament. He is a great leader no matter where he goes or who he is with, his patience and good attitude will help him move forward toward a bright future.
Martin Meza has set many life goals in preparing himself for the future, primarily continuing his education at San Diego state. This university will be near his family and friends. They have a great soccer program and although he is aware that he will not be playing soccer forever he has set a secondary goal and thatís to become a math teacher. His short term goals are to keep striving to become a better student, son, brother, friend and role model. He intends to better his self in the classroom as well as on the field so he can achieve in receiving a full scholarship to the college of his choice. Martin will also continue in helping out at his local club so more kids can have the opportunities that have been presented to him.
Past Youth of the Year
The Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City
"Youth of the Year"
Kenny found the club not in your traditional way, but in way of opportunity. He was part of a work experience program offered by his high school. This program gave teens the opportunity to gain work experience and get paid while doing so. His first few days on the job he wasn't sure of what to do, did he play with kids, or does he just hang out and wait till someone tells him what to do. At that time, the game room coordinator was Ruben Gutierrez. Ruben took Kenny under his wing and guided him on what he had to do. Shortly after, Kenny began to understand that the club was not about kids just playing.
It was about positive adults impacting the youth in the desert. Now he is a major part of that impact. With all the issues that his peers were going through Kenny credits the club for being the reason that he is not being pulled into drugs, alcohol and violence. Kenny says "The club saved me from the major problems that are out in my community. The club feels like home and the staff like family." After Kenny had completed his hours, Scott Robinson (the Executive Director) came to the conclusion that he needed to hire Kenny. He approached Kenny and asked him how had his experience been working at the club, Kenny replied "At first I was doing it because of the money, but then I realized that the club offered so much more to the members."
The club gave Kenny the opportunity to guide members with personal issues, teach them right from wrong and most importantly gave Kenny the opportunity to be a positive role model. Seeing this Scott tells Kenny that he does not need a "someone that needs a job", he needed someone and right then and there he said, "I need you" and offered Kenny the job. As fast as Scott asked Kenny, Kenny replied "Yes, ill take it". It has been 3 years that Kenny has been working at the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City. Thatís 3 years of being a big brother to every member, 3 years of helping kids grow and 3 years of enjoying the interaction with every member and staff.
In the 3 years of working at the Club, Kenny has learned from all who worked with him, but one person that has always been a huge support to Kenny has been Susana Avalos, She has walked through every issue and problem that Kenny has encountered with members and given him the support he needed in order to succeed. Kenny soon came to realize that all the adults at the club were not the same as the adults that he had encountered outside of the club and that made him feel part of something bigger. Knowing that he is looked at as a positive role model and not the stereotype that he had always been put under has given him even more reason to believe in others.