Living in public housing in San Francisco’s Western Addition, Derick’s single mom struggled to raise three kids on welfare. Poverty, crime and drugs were all too familiar, but the Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs’ Ernest Ingold Clubhouse gave Derick an escape from gangs and violence, and offered a place where he could play sports, hang out with friends and relax as a kid. It was at the Clubhouse that his mentors convinced him to apply for a Guardsmen Campership to attend Camp Mendocino—the Boys & Girls Clubs’ 10-day overnight camp in Northern California.
Camp was the first time Derick had been away from home, and the first time he experienced the outdoors beyond a trash-ridden city park. “Camp opened up everything for me. Suddenly my world didn’t seem small or narrow. I would go swimming in the Noyo River, ride horses in the Redwoods and make new friends. I would never have had those experiences at home, and I could never have gone to camp without the help from The Guardsmen,” says Derick.
Derick attended Camp Mendocino until he was 14, stayed active in the Boys & Girls Clubs and eventually became a staff member—he was a natural role model for younger kids. Then, although he had barely graduated from high school, he approached a two-year degree at City College of San Francisco with a maturity and determination that surprised everyone, including himself. When he graduated as valedictorian of his class, he earned acceptance to UC Berkeley.
Now, with boundless energy and optimism, Derick balances coursework in law and social policy with an overflowing list of extracurricular activities, including an internship in the San Francisco office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a counseling position with the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department. By working with at-risk youth in the Juvenile Probation Department, Derick is leading by his own example. “Kids come in with crime and drug charges and I tell them my life story. I tell them about where I’m from and the choices I’ve made. I’m talking it and doing it,” Derick says.