The Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor is so proud to introduce our very own Nicolas Velazquez as the California Youth of the Year! In December, Nick was named the Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor Youth of the Year and earlier this year, Nick was awarded Youth of the Year for LA County. In the coming months, Nick will be representing California in the Pacific Regional Youth of the Year Competition.
What is Youth of the Year?
Every year, our dedicated high school members compete to represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor as our Youth of the Year. This recognition program focuses on acknowledging and making Club members aware of their own leadership abilities. The program fosters Club members’ emerging leadership abilities and cultivates their leadership potential, providing the foundation they need for advanced leadership development, academic exc
ellence, and postsecondary success.
Through this program, Club youth become motivated to seek opportunities for leadership and to act as responsible citizens and change agents. Our Youth of the Year serves as an ambassador, role model, leader, and advocate for the BGCLAH as well as a become a voice for all of our Club’s young people. Over the decades, these individuals have exemplified the Boys & Girls Club mission and are proof to the impact Clubs make in transforming and saving kids’ lives.
Meet our Calfornia Youth of the Year!
“Drug and Alcohol abuse, heavy gang violence, shootings, and abductions. These are just some of the various things that my home, Wilmington, California, is riddled with. An absent alcoholic father and loving uncle who struggles with alcoholism to this day are just some of my personal adversities, that would surely doom me and deteriorate my motives until my seemingly inevitable failure. You don’t have to take my word for it, statistics say, a Hispanic boy, birthed to a single, immigrant mother in an environment as disastrous as mine would surely crumble and succumb to the life of a gang member that had already engulfed the dreams of many of his childhood friends. That is, until, he discovered the Boys & Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor.
My name is Nicolas Velazquez and the BGCLAH reinvented my life. From the second I walked into the Club, a feeling of security fell over me. Whether it was the instant smiles that emerged from the staff or the warm environment that simply flooded the building, I knew I’d discovered something great. I instantly fell in love with the various programs at the club, my first being the Lego Club with Josh. But as I transitioned into different stages in my life, I started to really appreciate the many educational and growth based opportunities the club offered, from College Bound which helped me envision a path beyond high school that I’ve been building since elementary school, to Jr. Youth of the Year in Middle School which helped me shape my passion for serving my community and being a leader, to present day, where I am the Keystone Treasurer and am taking Dual Enrollment college courses!
The club has always been a 2nd home and even a 1st when times get really tough. Watching your uncle pass to cancer, and grandpa become disabled, is no easy task, but there is always a loving staff to talk to at the Club. When life turns me upside down, the Club helps hold me up. Today, I’m a community-oriented and passionate individual who takes pride in my Club membership. I’m a 4.0 GPA student-athlete, who’s involved in numerous extracurriculars to ensure that my goals of attending a 4 year+ university and becoming a neurosurgeon come true. I’m a leader who respects cultural and personal differences and I want to educate and inspire the next generation of youth to make sure they do too. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t supposed to be here. I am walking proof of what the Club can produce and I want to let it be known that, Great Futures truly do, start here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor.”