OCEANSIDE — Angel Lopez has been recognized as the Boys & Girls Clubs San Diego County Youth of the Year.
At 15, he is the youngest nominee the Oceanside Boys & Girls Club has had for the award.
By age 12, Lopez already had many of the responsibilities of an adult. While his mother worked, he got his three younger brothers ready and dropped off at daycare and school before getting himself to school.
Sometimes this entailed taking two buses to get everyone to their destinations. It was a responsibility he took on with the understanding that his mother was doing everything she could to provide for the family.
Time for himself came between 3 and 6 in the afternoon when he and his brothers were at the Boys & Girls Club. Lopez found a safe haven at the club. He had the guidance of adults and time to be with his peers.
“It has given me the opportunity to be a kid,” he said.
Club instructors encouraged him to do more than attend school. They pushed him to set goals and pursue his interests.
Lopez joined the school track team, brought up his grades and became a counselor in training at the club, which included honing his writing and public speaking skills.
“He’s come such a long way in the past three years, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is just the beginning of Angel’s success,” Stephanie Peterson, Boys & Girls Club instructor, said. “He’s an inspiring young man, with a story of strength that will represent San Diego perfectly.”
Club instructors describe him as a quiet and charismatic leader.
“He has innate natural leadership,” Amy Caillouette, Boys & Girls Club administrator, said. “He has a quiet way of influencing and leading younger kids and helping them make positive decisions.”
“I’m excited about his choices as he grows,” Caillouette added. “He’s doing more than just being an example, people are going to follow him. I know that he’s going to continue making a difference.”
Lopez will go on to compete for regional and perhaps state and national Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year awards and scholarships.
The Boy & Girls Club of Oceanside serves 3,600 youth a year.
This year the club is celebrating its 60th anniversary.