Singled out among several outstanding local youth, Taylor Penny and Genesis Mena, both from Oxnard, were recently named 2012 Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme.
The Youth of the Year competition recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club local organization, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.
“Taylor and Genesis are both strong, creative and intelligent young women who represent our Clubs with great pride and enthusiasm,” said Tim Blaylock, Chief Professional Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. “We are proud to consider them our Youth of the Year.”
Penny, 18, joined the Club at age 9, after her family relocated from Las Vegas to Oxnard. Her family struggled with unemployment, poverty and other serious issues. Penny’s older sister dropped out of high school, pregnant at the age of 17. On the advice of an aunt, she began attending the Boys & Girls Clubs in Oxnard, where she found homework help, mentors, activities and friends.
Penny quickly became a role model to many children at the club and at school. With stellar grades in all college prep and honors classes, she has been active in school sports, ASB and was a competitive cheerleader with the California All Stars. At the Club, she is a dedicated volunteer helping other challenged children to believe in themselves. She participates in the Keystone leadership group and is employed at the Club as a Junior Staff Member.
Penny is graduating from Oxnard High School in June and has been accepted to Washington State University and is waiting to hear back from other schools. She aspires to become a lawyer.
A senior at Pacifica High School, 17-year-old Mena will be the first in her family to graduate high school and to attend college. She is fluent in English, Spanish and French and often translates for her parents. She also helps her parents with expenses through her part-time job.
Mena has been very active in the Club for the year and a half she’s been a member. Through the Club’s Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program, she took part in the creation of Compassion Fashion, a socially conscious fashion accessory business. She’s competed at UCLA in the Project ECHO competition, where she and her four team members were awarded the Most Inspirational Business Award. She traveled to Chicago last May to compete in the National SAGE business plan competition where her team placed third in the Social Enterprise category and participated in the local NFTE program last summer, placing second. In 2011, she was awarded the Magic Johnson Entrepreneur Award and has consistently been involved in the Club’s College Bound program.
Mena has maintained a 3.75 GPA and earned scholar awards each year in high school. She has applied to 12 colleges and has been receiving acceptance letters. She plans to earn a degree in marketing and advertising.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard and Port Hueneme exists to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. Program areas offered to youth include character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts, computer training and sports/fitness/recreation opportunities. For more information, visit www.positiveplace4kids.org.