Building values-based leadership and civic engagement in the young people of California is important to me. That is why I am proud to volunteer for California YMCA Youth & Government. Here's my origin story with Y&G along with a little of the program's history. I know you have your own fond memories too and I'm so grateful that you continue your involvement by supporting today's youth.
I first got involved in Youth & Government when I was 14 through the Santa Barbara YMCA. My first conference was at Tri-Counties (the original Spring Conference) held that April (1970) at the Hawthorne Program Center of the Centinela Valley YMCA. It was lead by the first Tri-Counties female Youth Governor, Debbie Karrenbrock from Centinela Valley. Three weeks later, I attended my second Model Legislature (Governor Tino Santa Cruz presiding) at the Southeast YMCA in Huntington Park. The day after returning from that conference I turned 15. I've stayed involved ever since! My first Sacramento was the 23rd Model Legislature in early February 1971, when I was a sophomore (the earliest one could attend until the 60th MLC!). Youth Governor Jack Handy from Anaheim presided at that ML on his own, as the Governor's Cabinet was still a year from creation. My second Sacramento in 1972 was presided over by Chris Ceballos from the Mount Diablo Y in Pleasant Hill, with the help of the first Cabinet. I was a Committee Clerk (officially an Aide) at my first two Sacramento's but then, because legislative committee's finished their business on Friday by 5:00p.m., I needed another assignment. So I went to the Aide's office that Friday evening and asked what I should do/where I could go, and an unknown upperclassman said, "Well, let's see, you can go to the Secretary of State's Office or the Youth Governor's Office." I chose the Governor's office and by the next afternoon I started referring to myself as the Personal Bodyguard to the Youth Governor. I ran notes around the Capitol for Governor Handy, and followed him around when he left the office. The next year, I startled Governor Ceballos when I approached him right before the Opening Joint Session began and told him that as soon as I was done being a committee clerk on Friday afternoon, I'd be his personal bodyguard. I had another terrific conference and executed both roles in turn, I even accompanied the Governor and his Cabinet to lunch that Saturday and protected them all. The next year, 1973, was the first year for two major addition to the program: the creation of the first statewide Model Court Program, and the first statewide election of the Youth Governor was held at Camp San Luis Obispo in mid-January. Lisa Morrison from Marin was elected as the 25th Youth Governor. (She was also the second female Youth Governor, after Linda Farley from Downey back in 1960.) I was a member of the Assembly that year and was selected to be a Legislative Committee Chair. It was my third and last year as a delegate and it too was more than memorable. I couldn't have asked for a better delegate experience in Y&G. And then, at the end of 1973, some six months after graduating from high school, I got a call saying they'd like to have me come back to the program to help. So, along with Michael Malcolm from Centinela Valley, I was one of the first two people to be invited back our first year out of the program and, therefore was, in essence, one of the first two Interns. We did not have the title and there was no program, but Michael, who had been on the first Supreme Court the year before, came back to help advise the Model Court Program. And I came back and helped staff the Capitol Y delegate newspaper. I spent the weekend - I kid you not - printing out the paper by operating a memeograph machine inside a closet on the first floor of the Senator Hotel. And that, my friends, started my volunteer involvement in Y&G. And the rest is . . . a whole 'nother story. But how could I not stay involved in Y&G after all it gave me and allowed me to do?
If I don't know your Y&G origin story, I look forward to you sharing it with me. In the meantime, I ask that you continue to support this outstanding program. Every gift makes a difference. One hundred percent of the funds raised through the Future Leaders Campaign are allocated to financial assistance in the form of scholarships for youth who would otherwise be unable to attend due to financial hardship. Please join me and give today.
All my best,