Tag Archives: Arizona State University

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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Youth of the Year nominee Alex Espinoza

Alex Espinoza, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley Grant Woods Branch – Mesa since 2010, is a leader and a dependable person when things get tough.

As the oldest of three boys in a traditional, Mexican-American household, he helped his family cope when his beloved twin Aunts Maria and Francesca lost their battles with breast cancer.

Alex Espinoza. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

Espinoza would like to go to medical school and to one day find a cure for breast cancer.

He is one of eight outstanding Valley youth vying to become the Boys and Girls Clubs of East Valley’s Youth of the Year on Feb. 27. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held at 5:30 p.m. at The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre.

Espinoza uses the leadership skills he learned at the club to help staff as an office aide at Riverview High School, where he is a senior. He also showed great initiative in starting a monthly school clean-up program within the student council, where he was elected to the position of class representative.

Espinoza is the vice-president of the Keystone Club, where he’s helped get donations for its Guardians for Kids Breakfast.

He wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a concentration in medicine from Arizona State University or another university, then complete medical school.

Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Valley. For more information visit clubzona.org.

Erin Saltzman

Youth of the Year nominee Ashley Delgado

Ashley Delgado found the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley’s Compadre Branch – Chandler  when she was 7. Now  17, she helps embrace new teens who want to join.

Ashley Delgado. Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Valley.

She has been in the clubs’ Leadership in Training Program and served as a group leader during a daytime summer camp. As the Keystone Club’s leader she helped raised about $500 for cancer research. She also teamed up with her mother, who works for Community Services of Arizona, to allow the Keystone Club to serve food to folks at the Gilbert Senior Center.

Delgado is one of eight outstanding valley youth vying to become the Boys and Girls Clubs of East Valley’s Youth of the Year on Feb. 27. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held ar 5:30 p.m. at The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre.

Delgado used to compete in various sports until she was diagnosed with a heart condition last March. This, among other serious obstacles have made her determined and committed to her family. When she was younger, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer; Delgado watched her fight and beat it.

Her neighborhood is also has a lot of gang activity and violence, but Delgado’s parents have helped her stay on track and make good choices.

Delgado is a senior at Chandler Early College, a high school on the Chandler-Gilbert Community College campus, where she takes college classes while still in high school so she can graduate early. Her Keystone Club experience prepared her to serve on the school’s Student Council.

After high school, she would like to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at Arizona State University. Delgado hopes to work with patients diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other special needs children.

Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Valley. For more information visit clubzona.org.

Erin Saltzman

Youth of the Year: Chelsea McElhenny

When Chelsea McElhenny was in sixth grade, her world was turned upside down.

Her parents had gotten a divorce and that summer she was assaulted by a friend of the family, which led her to many confusing feelings.

“I just wasn’t the same after that,” she says. “I started slipping in school and a lot of my friends had gotten involved with bad crowds. I didn’t have anyone I could really trust.”

Chelsea McElhenny. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

McElhenny found the the Woodrow C. Scoutten/Tolleson Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix a few blocks away from her house. From the help of mentors and their support, she was able to get back on track in school and her life.

“The club is a life changer,” she says. “Before I had the club in my life, I didn’t really know what it was like to be part of something good.”

McElheeny is one of 12 outstanding Valley youth vying to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix Youth of the Year during the “Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars” event Feb. 18. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

McElhenny is the current vice president of the branch’s Keystone Club, a community service and leadership club for teens. She has volunteered numerous hours to community service projects.

McElhenny also has volunteered her time at the club by helping the younger kids with homework, serving meals and providing assistance with sports.

After she finishes high school, McElhenny plans to attend Arizona State University to become an athletic manager and eventually work for a professional sports team.

Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix’ 12 clubhouses, dental clinic and outreach programs. For more information, visit bgcmp.org.

Erin Saltzman

Tomorrow: Nominee Ashley Delgado.

Youth of the Year nominee Kallie LaForest

Kallie LaForest was 9 years old when she first started going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix Louis & Elizabeth Sands Branch. She has remained an active member ever since.

She says the best part of attending the club is the caring, supportive staff members. LaForest is especially grateful to the staff for introducing her to art, which is now one of her favorite hobbies in and outside the club.

Kallie LaForest. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

LaForest is one of 12 outstanding Valley youth vying to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix Youth of the Year during the “Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars” event Feb. 18. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

“The staff showed me how much fun art can be and they’ve also been there to help me with my homework so I can stay on track to go to college,” she says.

LaForest enjoys helping the younger members with art or with homework problems.

“It’s so much fun to work with the younger club members. Being a part of the club has helped me realize that I want to go to college and build a career working with kids,” she says.

The Deer Valley High School senior is on the Honor Roll and a member of the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society.

The club has taught LaForest the importance of community. She also volunteers her time to an organization that uses horses as therapy for children with special needs.

“I think it’s important to give back to the community because it has helped me so much,” she says.

LaForest plans to go to Arizona State University to study education to become a teacher or pediatrician.

Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix’ 12 clubhouses, dental clinic and outreach programs. For more information, visit bgcmp.org.

Erin Saltzman

Tomorrow: Nominee Martha Ramirez.

Youth of the Year nominee Beylul Woldebruk

Beylul Woldebruk. Photo by Nancy Crase/CrasePhoto.

Beylul Woldebruk began attending the Harry & Sandy Rosenzweig Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix when she was 12 years old. Initially, she came almost daily, looking for a safe place in her neighborhood where she could meet new people.

Little did she know that the club, members and staff would have such a positive impact on her life. Woldebruk is one of 12 outstanding Valley youth vying to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix Youth of the Year during the “Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars” event Feb. 18. The event, which ultimately will chose one youth to represent the chapter at the statewide competition, will be held from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

“The biggest impact the club has made on my life is teaching me how to make positive choices and be myself,” says Woldebruk.

Woldebruk is president of the Keystone Club, a leadership and community service club for teens at  her branch. She plans community service events for her club and shows teens the importance of giving back to the community. Her favorite event was hosting a food drive for a local food bank.

Woldebruk loves being a role model for younger kids because before coming to the club she didn’t always have that confidence. She was bullied at school. Now, when she has a problem, she can go to a staff member at the club for advice. She also learned how to make positive choices, in and outside of the club.

“Instead of skipping school, smoking, drinking and partying like a lot of my friends at school, I do fun, healthy things like playing volleyball and singing,” she says.

The club has helped her to prepare for college by visiting college campuses including Arizona State University. After she graduates from Central High School, she hopes to become a nurse so she can help people.

Every year, thousands of children benefit from after-school youth development programs, extended services and community support programs through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix’ 12 clubhouses, dental clinic and outreach programs. For more information, visit bgcmp.org

Erin Saltzman

Tomorrow: Meet nominee Chloe Johnson.

Honoring excellence in after-school programming

Nine afterschool programs and educators from around the state have been named as finalists in three categories for 2011 Afterschool Awards of Excellence.

Winners will be named at the 10th annual Spotlight on Afterschool: Awards of Excellence Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. The event recognizes innovative afterschool programs and staff for exemplary work in furthering the delivery of quality child development programs in out-of-school-time settings.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be recognized as the 2011 Afterschool Champion for her efforts to engage and inspire youth participation in the civics process through the website, iCivics.  (See related story, “Cyber civics from in irrefutable source,” and listen to our 2009 interview  with O’Connor.)

The award will be presented by the 2010 Afterschool Champion, Lattie Coor, Ph.D., president-emeritus, professor and Ernest W. McFarland Chair in Leadership and Public Policy in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University.

Finalists are:

Outstanding Afterschool Professional: 

• Sarah Sellers, Sierra Verde School Before & After School Care Program, Glendale

• Jeremy King, City of Tempe Kid Zone Enrichment Program, Tempe

• Brenda Levings, 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Thompson Ranch, El Mirage

Outstanding Afterschool Program: 

• Mountain Pointe High School, Extra Curricular Activities Program, Ahwatukee

Phoenix Elementary School District PEER Program, Phoenix

• City of Yuma Housing Authority, SHINE Program, Yuma

 Jane Romatzke Leadership Award:

• United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Youth Development Coalition, Tucson

• Jay Molberger, Scottsdale Unified School District Kids Club, Scottsdale

• Barbara Ervin, Deer Valley Unified School District, Phoenix

The Jane Romatzke Leadership Award is named for the woman who served the profession at both the state and national levels from 1990 until her retirement in 2007.

Finalists were selected by an independent panel of judges including City of Peoria council member Joan Evans, Kathleen McKeever of the Washington Elementary School District and the 2010 Jane Romatzke Leadership Award winner, and Charlene Sigala of the Marana Unified School District.

Winners will each receive a $500 cash award, a Flip™ Video Camera, certificate of recognition from Gov. Jan Brewer and paid admission to the Arizona Center for Afterschool professional development conference on Saturday, Nov. 19.  The theme this year is “The Power of Afterschool: Exploring Each Child’s Passion and Potential.”

Wells Fargo is the title sponsor for this event.  The company invested almost $5 million in schools and nonprofits in Arizona in 2010 and Wells Fargo team members provided almost 80,000 volunteer hours to help their neighborhoods and communities succeed.

The luncheon and awards begin at 11 a.m. and are presented by the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence. Single tickets are $75. Table sponsorships are available.  azafterschool.org.