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2010 Desert Gala

Dylan O’Brien

Dylan’s commitment to excellence and community service started early. While in elementary school, he earned several academic awards, participated in service organizations, and demonstrated his leadership talent in Angel Light Academy’s Junior Leader Program. Dylan’s practice of excellence and community service continued through high school, where he maintained high academic performance, became an award-winning actor, and was selected as President of the ALA Jr. Leader program. Throughout high school and college, Dylan used his acting talent and commitment to youth to assist with the planning, training and facilitation of ALA’s Youth Leadership Conferences, and all this while working. The first in his family to attend college, Dylan will graduate in May from California State San Marcos with a degree in Political Science, and aspirations to work for social change. His goal is to teach and inspire youth to care about and get involved in politics.

Veda Brooks

Following a distinguished career in the Army, where she earned the Army Commendation, Army Achievement, Good Conduct, Meritorious Service and Kuwait Liberation Medals, Veda earned her degree and began a second career in health and social service. She is the founder of Destiny Homeless Ministries and OES Family Outreach Center, uniting faith-based organizations to serve the chronic homeless and displaced families. She not only oversees the day to day operations, but also fund raises, and advocates for the homeless. Her dream is to take her organization global, making a difference in communities throughout the world.

Solomon Worlds

An exemplary student since elementary school, Solomon is also a community activist who began his community service as a young child, following in his mother’s footsteps. In addition to helping to feed and clothe the homeless year-round since 2004, he has been an active member of ALA’s Junior Leader Program, leading and teaching other youth by his example. At Cathedral City High School of Palm Springs Unified School District, Solomon is an honor student and Citizenship Award recipient. Solomon plans to attend college to earn a Doctorate and become a family counselor specializing in adolescent behavior.

Vanessa Castro

An outstanding student and very respected leader throughout her school years, Vanessa has been selected for numerous awards and responsibilities including being chosen by the school staff to escort Cesar Chavez on a tour of Cesar Chavez Elementary School as a fifth grader. A role model for her peers as well as her students, Vanessa is a doer. In addition to the demands of teaching elementary grades, she has served on the School Site Council, as After School Coordinator, Grade Level Chair, and PTO Fundraising committee. She has been nominated by her colleagues for Teacher of the Year three times. Her goal is to continue her education and create a tutoring center in the valley.

Troy Compton

A long time ALA volunteer and role model for his peers and younger kids, Troy’s leadership skills have been evident throughout his school years. He was very active in a variety of team sports while excelling academically and participating in multiple extracurricular activities. From Boy Scouts to class VP, Troy has been a team player and leader. He joined ALA’s Junior Leader Program while in junior high school, and continued to participate in ALA Youth Leadership programs whenever possible throughout high school and college. Volunteering annually at the ALA Youth Leadership Conference, he encourages teens to develop their innate leadership skills and to take charge of their lives. Troy recently graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and is now embarking on his career as an engineer.

Rafael Luna

Rafael began earning academic excellence awards in elementary school and has not stopped. At Indio High School of Desert Sands Unified School District, Rafael is a 4.0 student, excels in sports, and gives in service to his community. An ALA Junior Leader since he was seven, Rafael has developed his leadership skills through action. He participates in ALA fundraising events, contributes to curriculum development for ALA Junior Leader and Youth Leadership Conference programs, initiated a Junior Leader program in Phoenix, teaching the children what he has learned about leadership and communication. His goal is to attend college, join the Navy and later help youth like himself to realize their potential.

Linda Aguilar

Linda began helping others at a young age. She joined ALA at age five and has been an active and committed participant since. Her dream is to become a pediatrician to help children be all that they are meant to be, and she is well on her way. An excellent student at Coachella Valley High School of Coachella Valley Unified School District, Linda has been recognized not only for her academic achievements but also for her athletic accomplishments, and for her outstanding community service. In addition to her work with ALA, she has been a volunteer for Flying Doctors, Martha’s Kitchen, her church, and has lead a youth group at her home. She has also tutored children in need of academic support. Well respected by her teachers, family and friends, Linda leads by example.

Erika Baily

Erika developed her talent for teaching while in college, becoming an Orientation Leader, counseling rape victims, and taking on leadership roles in service and social organizations. In addition to teaching in the elementary grades in Indio, California, she had been Grade Level Leader, and is an instructor for the Sacramento County Office of Education, training teachers, coaches and administrators in effective reading instruction. Erika is also an active ALA volunteer and board member. She assists in the development of the curriculum and creates games and activities to teach problem solving for ALA’s Youth Leadership Conferences, Junior Leader and Inter-generational programs. She also chairs the annual Youth Leadership Conferences, trains ALA volunteers who work with children, and developed and managed a successful after school enrichment program that integrated ALA leadership curriculum with school district initiatives.

Denise Muller

A self-proclaimed ‘slacker’ in high school, Denise has since given to youth and parents her entire adult life. Guidance counselor, program developer, mediator, teacher and trainer, Denise serves this community in many ways. From drug and alcohol prevention to parenting, she solves problems, develops and delivers programs that assist youth and adults with life skills, conflict management, character development, preparation for college, career planning and family counseling. Denise connects people and organizations for the betterment of all, and is well-respected for her work with families, students and school staff in the Desert Sands Unified School District Student Assistance Program. Her aspiration is to become an artist to bring beauty to her family and friends!

Bob Reinhagen

An award winning actor, director, musical director and producer with over 140 theatrical productions to his credit, Bob has performed professionally from New York to LA. Even when he was busy as a performer he found time to work with youth programs wherever he was performing or living. Bob also has an active community service record as VP of the Chamber of Commerce, co-founder of Leadership Coachella Valley, creator of the Christmas Tree Lighting program and Tour of Light, Chair of several advisory committees, and Deputy Director of the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival. He continues his involvement with the youth of the community in partnership with his son, Rob, a professional dancer and entertainer. Together they have founded California Ballet Opera, which focuses on serving the youth of the East Valley with professional quality training and performance experiences. His students report that he has changed their lives. One commented, “Being up on stage and doing what I love would not have been possible without him, and I love him dearly for that.”