Celebrate Youth: Claudia Mendoza

Claudia Barker. Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.

Claudia Mendoza came to the United States when she was just 6 years old. It didn’t take her long to adapt, especially once she became an active member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale’s Hartley & Ruth Barker Branch.

Claudia has been honored as the chapter’s Youth of the Year, a distinction giving to only one member per branch per year. Claudia will represent her branch – and possibly be named the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale — at the Celebrate Youth Gala & Auction on Saturday, March 31, at Talking Stick Resort.

While Claudia made many memories at the Club, her favorite is her first Keystone National Conference in Florida, where she got to visit Universal Studios. Now a junior at Coronado High School, Claudia looks forward to studying criminal justice at Arizona State University, something she couldn’t even dream of without the support of the Boys & Girls Club.

More than 30 kids compete for the honor of being named Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. Nine finalists are selected.

The gala is the Club’s premier fundraising event. Individual tickets are $125. The black tie event begins with a hosted bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner, a live auction and the Youth of the Year Ceremony.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide youth development services that instill strong core values and life-enhancing skills in a safe environment. The programs help promote healthy lifestyles, good character and academic success. For more information, visit bgcs.org.

Claudia’s speech

Life does not always give you a chance to redeem yourself. I, on the other hand, can say I was fortunate to be given a shot at redemption and an opportunity to better myself.

Academically, I was doing poorly. Because my mom never had the chance to continue her education, she wanted something better for me. Through my struggles with school, I had let my mom down and she thought the best option was to transfer me to a charter school. For me that was the WORST choice ever!
The worst part was that I was missing out on MY high school experience which meant NO school assemblies, NO elective classes, NO school dances, and NO sports.

Thankfully for me, my chance presented itself in the Boys & Girls of Greater Scottsdale Hartley & Ruth Branch. The club influenced me to get back on my feet by providing staff to help me on my homework daily to get my grades back up. At first, my mom was hesitant about allowing me to come to The Club because she thought it would be a distraction for me focusing on school. That could not be further from the truth.

The Club played an important role on my grades in order to participate in programs; my grades had to be in good standing. The Club gave me the confidence to keep my grades up and join Keystone. Keystone offered me the opportunity help my community through service projects but more importantly it encouraged me to come out and help my community.

The Club has served as my support system over the past five years. Not only has The Club brought staff members into my life that now have become mentors that have thought me to be confident and have given me the tools to become a leader at The Club.

The Club has also become a place where I am just not a member but also a sister as well. When I first came to The Club I was shy, quiet, and not very sociable. Thanks to my “big brothers and sisters” that helped mold me at The Club. They also helped me in becoming the outgoing, spontaneous, and social able young women that stand before you. I now have a new role at the club and that is being a sister to my family at The Club.

I thought I would never forgive my mom for putting me in a charter school but it turned out to be my second chance because it pushed me towards the club.
I am grateful for the club that taught me perseverance to work hard and make things possible, just like I made this possible. THANK YOU!

Tomorrow: Youth of the Year finalist Doniar Mason.

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