Three to be recognized at Change Makers event

Hollister couple, Gilroy athlete honored

CHANGE MAKERS Raymond and Monica Rodriguez of Hollister are 2019 Youth Alliance award winners.

Youth Alliance, a Hollister youth services agency, will honor three people at its annual Change Makers event Sept. 21.

Monica and Raymond Rodriguez of Hollister will be recognized as the 2019 Change Makers.

As a former board chairman for the San Benito High School District, Raymond Rodriguez has advocated for students’ rights, spending time advocating at school boards and at city council and county meetings, the alliance reported in announcing the awards.

According to the Youth Alliance, Rodriguez was a leading voice in getting Nash Street closed at SBHS during school hours and worked for the approval of a bond for infrastructure and core facility upgrades. He has also been a Cub Scout leader, Cub master, adult Scout trainer and day camp director.

Monica Rodriguez is an education advocate for students’ and parents’ rights, education code and special education. She has worked with students and families to support them in understanding their rights and supporting them in hearings, meetings, board meetings and more, according to the Youth Alliance.

“At YA, we cannot count the amount of young people, former mentees, parents and colleagues that stop Monica and Ray to thank them for all they have done,” said executive director Diane Ortiz. “It is a true honor to be able to recognize their hard work and commitment to the community.”

Aphrodite Ayala

Aphrodite Ayala will be honored as the recipient of the 2019 Youth Inspiration Award at the Change Makers event. She is a student-athlete at Gilroy High School entering her senior year, and has been with YA’s after-school program and summer camp as both a student and Youth Leader for the past 11 years. She has volunteered more than 900 hours as a mentor and role model to younger students in YA. 

The awards ceremony will be held Sept. 21 at Leal Vineyards’ The Barn, 6971 Airline Highway in Hollister. It starts at 5pm and will feature live entertainment from Funky Sound Experience, with raffles and auctions.

In addition, Youth Alliance is raising funds to sustain and expand its Youth Impact Centers, scholarships and youth support services in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Benito County. Youth Alliance services include after-school, summer and late-night prevention programs, bilingual counseling and case management, and intervention programs serving youth in the juvenile justice system.

“This year, YA is thrilled to announce that we have set a $250,000 fundraising goal in celebration of our 25-year anniversary,” Ortiz said of  the alliance’s #YA25 Campaign.

Tickets for the Change Makers event can be purchased at or at the YA administrative office, 310 Fourth St. in Hollister.

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