Brian Mendoza

Brian Mendoza

Brian Mendoza of Carpinteria has been named Youth of the Year by United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC).

Teen directors and club directors select one youth from their site to compete for UBGC Youth of the Year. The top two contestants this year were Mendoza and runner-up Monica Bueno from the Westside Unit. This is the second year the UBGC Youth of the Year is from the Carpinteria Unit.

Asked what it would mean to him if he were to win, Mendoza, a sophomore at Carpinteria High School, said: “If I win Youth of the Year, I would be grateful because it means that I have been working hard and doing the right thing to be successful.”

Mendoza said UBGC is important to him because the staff treats members like family. His own passion, he said, is to teach others to stay focused on their goals, and he thinks the club allows him to do this. Mendoza said his passion to study sports medicine was motivated after he suffered a sports-related concussion.

The awards evening included a panel of 15 judges from Santa Barbara. The contestants were asked to talk about what the club meant to them, answer a series of other questions, and finish with their speeches.

Then, the staff member who is closest to each youth was asked to sit with the panel of judges to answer any additional questions such as what the youth has overcome since the staff member spent time with them.

“I was so honored to be a judge for the 2019 Youth of the Year. I was impressed by how well-spoken all of the candidates were, and their positivity despite overcoming challenging obstacles in their lives,” said panel judge Sara Dearman an advisor at Chevron.

“It was clear that UBGC has had a great impact on all of their lives; giving them a sense of family when they had none, helping them to find their own voice, and teaching them how to find common ground with others,” she said. “These candidates showed me that our future is in good hands, especially when they have UCBG to help them find their path.”

“This is one of my favorite nights of the year when we have this incredible panel of judges get to meet and hear the stories of our club kids. Nobody ever walks away from this evening without feeling really good about supporting our organization,” said CEO Michael Baker.

The club thanks the panel of judges: Michelle Apodaca from Deckers; Fred Shaw, council member and immediate past mayor of Carpinteria; Carpinteria Superintendent of Schools Diana Rigby; Kirsten McGlaughlin, Cox Communications market vice president, Santa Barbara; Rondi Guthrie, Socal Edison government relations manager; Lompoc Superintendent of Schools Trevor McDonald; UBGC Advisory Board member Dana Newquist; Tom Reed, executive director of Unity Shoppe; UBGC Board President Tony Vallejo; Joyce Donaldson, IOM president/CEO of Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Leslie Bisno, UBGC vice president of advancement.

“One of my favorite events of the year is to serve as a judge for the 2019 Youth of the Year,” said Rigby. “Each year I am more impressed with the candidates’ poise, resilience, leadership, and genuine appreciation for the positive impact of UBGC. Our future is bright with UBGC youth leading the way for the next generation.”

Mendoza will complete at the Coastal Area Council Competition in March. If he wins there, he will compete for State Youth of the Year honors in Sacramento.

— Tina Ballue for United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.