The Coast News Group
Debbie Medrano, of Vista Teen Outreach, a 2017 award recipient, with Boys & Girls Club of Vista CEO Matt Koumaras. Courtesy photo
Community Vista

Have a Heart for Kids Award nomination deadline Jan. 11

With just hours left to go, the Boys & Girls Club of Vista is encouraging nominations for the Have a Heart for Kids Award for adults dedicated to the well-being of children who live in Vista. Submissions need to be entered by Jan. 11 and the winner will be announced at the club’s annual Youth of the Year event on Jan. 31 at the gym.  

“This award reinforces to me the fact that there are quite a few incredible people in our community, many of which fly under the radar year after year, but it’s these people that make a huge impact on the future directions of kids,” Matt Koumaras, the club’s CEO, said. “This award is to recognize someone who is dedicated to the future of Vista’s youth by meeting their basic needs, encouraging them, or providing opportunities for kids to grow and thrive.”

Award recipients don’t need to be Vista residents. 

Since 2008, the Have a Heart for Kids Award has honored one winner a year. Recent award winners include Jason Omundson, Debbie Medrano and Sue McLeod. These individuals, Koumaras said, go “over and beyond” serving youth members in Vista.  

“We’re looking for someone that consistently goes out of their way to serve all kids in Vista without seeking any special recognition,” Koumaras said. 

On average, five to 10 nominations are received, and the ad hoc committee comprised of board members, staff and volunteers choose the winner. The club will notify the recipient by Jan. 18, Koumaras said. 

Club Executive Director Ellen Clark said the annual award really complements the mission of the club. 

“The club is committed to providing Vista’s kids with the tools they need to achieve great futures. This award highlights individuals in the community who are investing in our youth in a way that positively affects their lives,” Clark said. “It is a privilege to learn about and work with the incredible people who are dedicated to helping local kids.”   

Koumaras said the Youth of the Year event has on average 125 attendees. Last year’s recipient was Julie Martinez.

“Our Youth of the Year event honors club youth age 5 to 18 that have overcome tremendous odds and demonstrate exceptional character and accomplishments at the Boys & Girls Club, their school and community,” Koumaras said.

Koumaras described the evening as a special one where both an adult and youth member get honored for their exceptional work and dedication.   

To nominate an individual for the Have a Heart for Kids Award, email Koumaras at [email protected] or fax a letter to (760) 724-1159. For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Vista, visit