The 11th and final nominee for this year’s Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize is Teresa Acosta, a lifelong resident of Lompoc and youth sports volunteer.
Acosta was nominated for the award by Steven Alburton, who pointed to her work with the American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO, saying that she brings inspiration and calm to what could be chaos.
“She brings peace to the families by providing a well-run program for almost 2,000 children,” according to a release sent by the peace prize committee. “Soccer gives children something to do and allows them to grow in harmony with other children from different backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities. Through teamwork, children learn the value of unity and achieving a goal with children different from themselves.”
Acosta first got involved in soccer when she became the guardian of her 11-year-old sister. Eventually Acosta volunteered to be on the AYSO board, first as safety director, then division director, coach administrator and now as communications director, all over a period of 15 years.
Her day job is administrative assistant for Lompoc Unified School District. She has three children, son Issac, who attends UC Riverside and coaches girls soccer, daughter Evelyn, who attends Fresno State and Jose Jr., who is a water operator for Mission Hills Water District.
Acosta is quick to give credit to all the volunteers and the entire AYSO board. They are actively soliciting volunteers to set up and translate and, especially, to referee.
“When meeting Teresa Acosta, you can quickly determine that she is a skilled and beautiful person, who is a gift to our community,” read the statement from the peace prize committee. “So today we thank and honor her for her long-term commitment to our youth.”
The annual peace prize ceremony will honor all 11 nominees at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ, 3346 Constellation Road.
The other 10 nominees are: homeless advocate Shawndel Malcolm, library director Sarah Bleyl, City Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne, school board President Steve Straight, food pantry coordinator Angel Ramos, treatment director Chuck Madson, victim advocate Sabrina Ross, mentor Tyler Stuart, an unnamed DACA recipient and attorney James Hall.