Photo courtesy of Ricardo Gomez Studios
Clarissa Fong accepts her award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County as Youth of the Year.
A huge commitment to her community is what landed Clarissa Fong of South San Francisco a Youth of the Year Award.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County honored the South San Francisco High School senior, who works for the organization. Fong, 17, will have the opportunity to advance toward the state, regional and national Youth of the Year titles.
“When I was told, I tried to play it cool,” she said. “But it actually means a lot to me to win it.”
Fong wants to go to University of California at Santa Barbara next year to study computer science. Math is her favorite subject and she also plays softball for her high school’s team.
During the summer of 2012, Fong began volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club. She clocked in more than 200 hours that summer. Sharon Dolan, executive director of the chapter, said Fong came in many days she wasn’t required and the organization created a paid position so it could hire her.
“She’s a terrific addition to the staff,” Dolan said. “She’s great with the kids, the kids look up to her and she’s super reliable.”
Fong now monitors the games room and runs a study power hour for first- and second-graders 15 hours a week.
“I like being a role model for the members,” said Fong, who was born and raised in South San Francisco. “Knowing they can look up to me.”
Fong said she enjoys the pictures kids draw for her.
“It’s really sweet,” Fong said. “They draw pictures of me and them at the park.”
Fong has a brother who is two years older than her who attends California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. He also volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club. Her father is an electrician and her mother works for a Hilton in San Francisco.
“I like that they (the Boys and Girls Club) like to help out kids and have families involved,” Fong said. “It’s a place that is good for the kids to come to.”
Dolan said the Youth of the Year is generally a selection of a person who makes significant contributions to the club and their communities, overcame hurdles in life to be able to thrive as a teen and has plans for after high school graduation.
Sponsors for the Jan. 22 awards ceremony honoring Fong and others included the Basque Cultural Center, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, Kiwanis Club of South San Francisco, South San Francisco Scavenger Company, Dudley Perkins Company and Wayne Joseph, D.D.S. Numerous South San Francisco restaurants provided complimentary food dishes and Torani hosted a soda bar. More than 150 people were in attendance for the awards, including San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and South San Francisco Councilman Mark Addiego. Reza Ashrafi, Codie Lai, Lauren Ortiz, Coral Shafer, Aimee Lara, Cesar Magallon, Michael Kwong, Alyssa Topete, Miguel Gomez and Korlen Perry were also recognized with awards.
Visit theclubs.org for more information on the organization.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105