VACAVILLE — Their stories of challenge and achievement got Vacaville High School student David Quintero and Buckingham High School student Jacqueline Holbert named the 2014 Vacaville Boys and Girls Club Youths of the Year on Thursday.
They were two of four candidates who vied for the honor to represent Vacaville at the state competition in April for the California Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year.
Quintero and Holbert, as well as fellow competitors Julian Howard of Will C. Wood High School and Dominique Hyson of Country High School, were lauded by the four judges for how they have improved their lives through the Boys and Girls Club’s teen programs.
“Each one of you have a very compelling story and you have overcome obstacles,” said Vacaville City Councilwoman Dilenna Harris, one of the judges. “Each one of you are courageous and you are all amazing.”
The four teens, who gathered at the Vacaville City Council chamber Thursday, are judged on what hardships they have overcome, their involvement with the Boys and Girls Club, their work in the community, their moral character, their poise and speaking ability.
“This is an opportunity for personal growth,” Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Anna Eaton said of the process each competitor had to go through, putting together an application the judges would read and then speaking before them about their lives and hopes.
Holbert talked about her stubbornness and being picked on by others, which brought out her anger and downward spiral of grades in middle school. She told the judges getting involved in the Boys and Girls Club helped her empower herself, inspired her to follow her dreams to attend college and to become a better role model for the younger program participants.
Quintero said his anger at seeing his mother work constantly to ensure their family was provided for spurred him into fights at school and caused his grades to drop to a parade of Fs. Enrollment at the Boys and Girls Club got him to handle his anger and realize how important it was to success at school, he told the judges.
“The club was like another family for me and I learned how to solve problem without violence,” Quintero said.
Howard talked about how drug problems in his family and the effort to help his aunt, who he lived with, to deal with breast cancer, made him an angry youth. But the involvement with the Boys and Girls Club “helped to guide me, worked with me on handling my temper and channeled my energy into positive things.”
Hyson described her life in a broken family and in foster care as dealing with things a girl should not have to deal with and “seeing things and girl should not see.” She first did not like being ordered to join the Boys and Girls Club as community service, “but I got closer to the staff and they taught me to conquer my emotions and they were there for me when I needed to talk.”
Quintero and Holbert now advance to the Northern California competition. The winner there goes to the state level, which offers a $1,000 scholarship to the winner as well as an opportunity to compete at regional and national competitions.
The candidates were judged by Harris, Vacaville Boys and Girls Club Board Vice President Richard Word, Vacaville City Manager Laura Kuhn and Vacaville City Councilman Ron Rowlett.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.