Youth of the Year (YOY)

The Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year program honors and celebrates our nation's most inspiring teens and their incredible journeys. Stories of outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle have made Youth of the Year America's premier leadership and recognition program for teens.

Congratulations to 2020 Chaffee County Youth of the Year,

"From my perspective, the Club is a place where people see the best in you. We always heard it: Be Great. The Club instilled a great work ethic in me." ~ Carlos Barrientos

When Carlos learned his father and five uncles had been deported to Guatemala, the perspective he developed at the Boys & Girls Club helped him confront his new reality. Carlos recounted his family's successful fight to bring his father back to the U.S. in his Youth of the Year acceptance speech

      Now a graduate of Salida High School (where he ranked third in his 
      class), Carlos will begin his undergraduate experience at Columbia 
      College in Chicago in the fall of 2021. He plans to be an architect. 

      Joining Carlos at the 2020 ceremony are (L to R) 2019 YOY Athena Kintgen; Salida Junior Youth of the 
      Year, Irene Alvarez; and Buena Vista Junior Youth of the Year, Catie Morgan.These amazing young 
      people give us hope for the future!

Club Member Wins 2019 State and Southwest Regional 
Youth of the Year Competitions!

         "I feel like I’m making a difference, and there is nothing I take more pride in  
         than that.”  ~Athena Kintgen

The difference Athena Kintgen made in the lives of young people at the Salida Boys & Girls Club propelled her 
to being named the 2019 Chaffee County YOY, Colorado YOY, and Southwest YOY!

At the state competition in Denver, Athena was introduced to the crowd of 250 plus by Gov. Jared Polis, who told Athena and her fellow teen competitors to dream, dare and do – BE Bold!

Athena’s speech to judges earlier in the day scored the highest among the 14 competitors, giving her the unique opportunity to repeat her speech following the governor's introduction. What followed was an inspiring message of strength, achievement and humility.

“As a young person who wants to do more, I feel like the world is at my fingertips. I suppose in my case, it really is.” A clever but sincere reference to her sign language skills.

Athena has suffered hearing loss for years, first diagnosed when she was in elementary school. “Growing up I was insecure because I was the girl who was repeatedly asking you to repeat yourself.”

Developing proficiency in sign language has allowed Athena to connect to others in a special way, especially the young members of her Boys & Girls Club. 

“My advocacy and teaching sign language isn’t solely for the language – it’s for the discussions. When you speak with sign language it’s personal, it incorporates your entire body and demands eye contact. Since I’ve been teaching at the club, I’ve noticed that more of our kids want to help others. It may be the quietest activity the club provides, but our kids know how to listen more now than they ever did before.”

Athena also shared very personal stories of her father who passed away when she was only 9 years old, the result of hepatitis C and alcohol poisoning.

“Being incapable of helping him is what kick-started my passion for helping others. Helping others, especially those who need it most. That is the mission of the Boys & Girls Club that I support wholeheartedly. ”

Kintgen is the first ever Boys & Girls Club winner from Chaffee County. Her Colorado state win earned her a $5,000 academic scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

She next competed in June 2019 at the Boys & Girls Clubs Southwest Regional Competition in Dallas against the state winners from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming and Montana. And she WON! Read about Athena's Southwest competition win in The Dallas Morning News

Athena went on to compete at the national event in Washington, D.C., where she impressed many. Watch her impressive speech at the 2019 Casino Night fundraiser. We are so proud of her!

Our own BGC Southwest YOY Athena (right), with SW Military YOY Ariana (L), holding their awards.

Branch Director: Jennifer Wood
P: 719.395.7014
Branch Director: Kiki Lathrop
P: 719.539.9500
Executive Director: Brian Beaulieu
P.O. Box 1430, Salida, Colorado 81201
P: 719.539.9500 / Email:

Photos by Phreckles Photography