Eddie Perez, adviser to an emerging youth group, is the 10th and final nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Perez graduated from Cabrillo High School, then Hancock College, and will be completing his bachelor's degree from CSU Channel Islands this month.
He will be the first of his family to earn a bachelor's, but his academic success also carries a feel-good backstory, according to the Peace Prize committee.
While Perez was in high school, his mother happened across a leaflet for a summer leadership camp sponsored by Future Leaders of America (FLA), a nonprofit based in Oxnard with a reputation for preparing Hispanic youth for college. Young Perez was not enthused about giving up free summer hours for “leadership development,” but his mom was adamant. She ensured he attended.
“The first day of camp I knew I was in the right place,” Perez says now.
He got involved in FLA even though its closest chapter met in Santa Maria. He recruited his sisters and others and stayed in touch with FLA as his academic career blossomed.
In the fall of 2018, he received a call about starting a Lompoc chapter of FLA. Would he help? No pay, no perks, uncertain future.
Despite a full load of classes and a job, he did not hesitate. He got back in touch with Lompoc youth he had once recruited. They did not hesitate either. The youth-led group aims to allow Lompoc youth a safe place to be heard and develop leadership skills to advocate for themselves and others.
Despite their inexperience, they set their 2019 fundraising goal at $10,000. Between bake sales at Albertson’s and small foundation grants, they amassed nearly $15,000 and sent 13 new Lompoc students to FLA summer camp.
Previously announced 2019 Peace Prize nominees include immigration counselor Guadalupe Perez (no relation to Eddie); grassroots philanthropist Jose Trejo; community leader Yasmin Dawson; AAUW coordinator Pam Buchanan; 8-year-old philanthropist Boss Brockett; pastor Eric De La Cruz; Yuri Gomez and her classmates, known collectively as Lompoc Youth Connections; Maple High Principal Katy Wallace; and physical therapist Lorena Rios.
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Nominations are now closed.
This is the 10th year for the Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize. This year's prize will be awarded during a ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ, 3346 Constellation Road. It will be open to the public.
Lorena Rios, an aide at Carnahan Physical Therapy, has been announced as the ninth nominee for this year’s Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Katherine Wallace, principal of Maple High School, is the eighth nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Yuri Gomez and her classmates, known collectively as Lompoc Youth Connections, have been announced as the seventh nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
The Rev. Eric De La Cruz, pastor of In His Hands Ministries, has been revealed as the sixth nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
The fifth nominee for this year’s Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize has been announced as 8-year-old Lompoc resident Boss Brockett.
Lompoc resident Pam Buchanan has been announced as the fourth nominee for the 2019 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Yasmin Dawson, who spearheaded the Sept. 20 march and vigil commemorating the life and death of a Lompoc homicide victim, has been nominated for the 10th annual Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Jose Trejo, owner of the Super Grill restaurant in Lompoc, has been announced as the second nominee for this year's Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.
Immigration counselor Guadalupe Perez has been announced as the first nominee for this year’s Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.