West Valley Boys and Girls Club Great Futures Start Here

2014 Youth of the Year
Janelle Downs

The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is proud to introduce the winner of its prestigious Youth of the Year Award to seventeen-year-old Janelle Downs. 


Janelle is a senior at Canoga Park High School and plans to further her education once she graduates by attending San Diego State University to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minor in Psychology. Janelle would like to pursue a career as a constitutional lawyer because she would like to defend people’s constitutional rights. 

Janelle struggled at a young age. Her mother was not around, which brought about several emotional issues and insecurities. She was raised by her father and stepmother and has two younger stepbrothers. Unfortunately, her stepmother suffered from a kidney failure, causing her to be in and out of the hospital. This forced Janelle to grow up at a young age because she had to take care of her two brothers while her stepmother was away. Her stepmother received a kidney transplant and then left the state with her sons. This caused a huge challenge for Janelle and father because they lost their home and family.

During Janelle’s first couple years of high school, she associated with the wrong group of people. They would do drugs, fail classes, and treat teachers with disrespect. Janelle felt ashamed to be friends with these types of people but she didn’t want to be alone. She joined the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley, which changed her life. 

“The Club is where I began to seek a change of environment and myself. The Club was there to guide me down a path of success with the help of tutors and staff members that made me accept and feel comfortable with my identity. The Club has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and has taught me that I have the capabilities to do so. By being the President of the Club’s Keystone program, I have developed many characteristics that I didn’t have before. The Club has made a positive impact on my life and has provided me with a home. I know that no matter where I go in life, I will always have the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley as my home that I can always come back to.”

2013 Youth of the Year - Tom Tran
A Strong Leader

The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is proud to introduce the winner of its prestigious Youth of the Year Award to Tom Tran.

Tom Tran has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley for four years and is a student at Canoga Park High School. Since Tom's freshman year of High School, he has been determined to make his four years count from achieving academic success and giving back to his community by organizing and implementing service projects. This year, he has gone above and beyond with his academic plan and has been involved in various programs at the Club.

Tran currently is the President of the Club's Keystone program, a program focused on the development of a member's leadership by emphasizing career readiness, community service, and academic achievement. Participating in tutoring and helping out with the College Bound program has been a strong support towards Tom's success in his academic and career life. By being a part of the Cyber Patriot program, he has gained a passion to pursue a career in cyber defense. 

Tom always managed to be a helping hand in his family and has created wonderful friendships with his peers and the Club's staff. Throughout his four years as a Clubmember, he has developed great relationships with the staff. Handing many issues in his home life, Tom always viewed the Club as a second home where he could be himself and escape from the stressed of his everyday life. The Club has been a huge part of Tom's life and has seen him develop into the person he has become today, a strong, resilient leader.

2012 Youth of the Year Selected
A Leader in the Making

Youth of the YearThe Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley is proud to introduce the winner of its prestigious Youth of the Year Award to sixteen-year-old, Jorden Sneed. 

Jorden is an honor-roll student at Sierra Canyon High School through the Club’s Rising Star Program, where she serves as an active member of the Black Student Union Club and the Gay-Straight Alliance Club, which organizes assemblies and invites guest speakers to raise awareness about African-American Culture and Gay Rights. She has also volunteered for School on Wheels, the Union Rescue Mission, the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC), the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN), Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) organizations. 

Jorden struggled at a young age with adjusting to her parents’ divorce. She developed emotional insecurities and would exclude herself from others, not allowing anyone to see her vibrant personality, which had been muted by her sadness. Thankfully, her single mother was able to turn to the Club, which resulted in turning Jorden’s life around. 

When she became a Club member, Jorden was surrounded by encouraging and motivational staff, as well as Club members who were going through similar situations in their personal lives. Soon the Club became her second home, and the Staff and Club members like family. She began to break out of her shell, make new friends, and get involved with Club activities and sports. She is now an honor-roll student, captain of her basketball team, and has dreams of attending an Ivy-League school to become a successful anesthesiologist. 

Jorden was one of four candidates from the High School Division to be considered for the title of Youth of the Year along with Canoga Park High School’s Ashley Youngquist, age 17, Ulisez Diaz, age 17, and Thalia Sanchez, age 17.  All four nominees are outstanding representatives of the Club which made the final decision extremely difficult for the judges. 

Jorden will now move onto the Los Angeles competition February 16, where she will compete against the Youth of the Year winners from 27 Boys & Girls Clubs in Los Angeles County.
Two members from that group will be selected to represent Los Angeles in the California State Competition. The California State winner will then move on to the Boys & Girls Club of America Regional Competition where winners of each region will compete for the National Youth of the Year title.  

The following Club members have been named Youth of the Year at our other Club sites: 

Main site – Melissa Guardado, age 13
Hale Charter Academy – Malike Steen, age 11
Blythe Elementary – Amanda Farrias, age 7
Reseda Elementary – Anny Lam, age 10
Topeka Elementary – Adam DeCesare, age 9
Tierra Del Sol – Anthony Madrigal, age 10.  

The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley will be honoring all of its members who have been named Youth of the Year at each of our sites Saturday, April 14, at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel at the annual Youth of the Year Awards Luncheon. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Vice President Kelsy Maruyama at 818-610-1054.

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