Two Community youth, Jessica Meneses, 15, Red Mountain Branch and Elyssa Velarde, 14, Lehi Branch, were two of nine finalists for the 2015 Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale Youth of the Year. The nine youth, in the presence of Community leaders, supporters, staff and family, gathered at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona, for the annual Blue Door Ball event on Saturday, February 20.
According to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale’s website, “Finalists share their personal stories of triumph and transformation and how the Club has helped shape their lives and put them on a path toward great futures. More than 30 Club kids compete for the honor of being named Youth of the Year—the highest honor given to a member of our organization.”
Meneses is a sophomore at Westwood High School. She has been a club member of the Red Mountain Branch for 3.5 years.
In the statement provided for Youth of the Year, it read,” During her freshman year of high school, Jessica was chosen as one of two members to participate in a curriculum geared specifically toward the physical appearance of young women and the negative perceptions and standards as portrayed by the media and by society. This program in particular has had the greatest impact on Jessica, as it has helped create and develop her passion for confidence and beauty in young women such as herself. Jessica is very concerned for the future of her generation because of celebrities and the image expectations in the media. She is actively taking the steps to share her passion with other youth and educate her peers on the importance of self-esteem.”
Velarde is a freshman currently attending Mountain View High School. She has been a club member of the Lehi Branch for over three years.
In the recommendation letter for Youth of the Year, Lehi Branch Supervisor John-Paul Saspie wrote,” Elyssa has made an outstanding effort to various volunteer opportunities and activities here at the Club. As soon as she gets off the bus, one of her first stops is the staff office to say hello and to see what is going on that day. Every month Elyssa helps reach out to over 50 families with our Free Food Distribution Community Outreach project. We have been keeping her busy month after month with opportunities to help Lehi reach out to the Community… At each event she has been more than willing to offer her time and assistance. Elyssa also helps with Leading Lego Club for younger Club Members. Her approach to working with our youth has generated a warm and close rapport with our young ones and Staff.”