Seventeen-year-old Gretchen Galanis has been chosen as the 2012 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, the highest honor a club member can receive.
Galanis, a student at Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy in Westchester, was recognized during the club’s 45th Annual Youth of the Year Awards Celebration and Banquet at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica Jan. 26.
Youth of the Year honorees are selected due to their outstanding service to the club and community, and their exceptional leadership among their peers, club officials say. Three runners up were also recognized.
Galanis will serve as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica’s youth spokesperson in the community and will next move on to the county competition, which includes a scholarship for post-secondary education.
“We congratulate Gretchen Galanis – and her fellow nominees – on their achievements,” said Aaron Young, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.
“Gretchen is a shining example of a young person who has made outstanding contributions to the club and her community, and has overcome extremely challenging obstacles to become the leader she is today. She is a living proof that great futures start here, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.”
Santa Monica Police Chief and club board member Jacqueline Seabrooks hosted the celebratory event.
Galanis took advantage of any and all service opportunities at the club, officials said. In the summer of 2012, she traveled to Liverpool, England where she worked with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for low-income families.
Outside of the club, Galanis started food drives and backpack drives at school to help homeless youth get on a better path. She was elected as vice president in her school’s Associated Student Body and continued planning drives and school events which served the students and the community.
Galanis will compete in March for the title of Youth of the Year for L.A. County – and potentially beyond – and will be eligible to receive scholarships along the way. The national winner will receive an additional scholarship of up to $50,000 and will meet the president in an Oval Office ceremony.

GRETCHEN GALANIS was presented the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica’s Youth of the Year award by club Board of Governors Chairman Bill Dawson (left) and Stan Choo of Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica.