This year's first Community Quarterback winner is MONICA BORQUEZ, who is a founder and volunteer of Club 21, which provides educational programs and services to equip individuals with Down syndrome, and their families, with the skills to enable them to have independence, access, and belonging in their home, school and community life. The Rams Community Quarterback Award, presented by Helpful SoCal Honda Dealers, celebrates individuals who display extraordinary leadership abilities and a passion for bettering his or her community. The volunteer recognition and grant program awards funding to the non-profits that they serve.
In 2000, Monica Borquez had a little boy named Timmy, who had Down syndrome, and felt it was important to connect with a group of women who also shared similar parenting experiences. Initiated in 2007, Monica and her group met weekly to discuss and brainstorm how they could improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their families. Two years later, Monica became a founder of the Club 21 Learning and Resource Center in Pasadena, California.
Even after the inception of Club 21, Monica refused to take her foot off the pedal. She is an attendee at Club 21's First Steps Program which takes place every Friday. Monica continues to serve as a comforting presence who is always ready and willing to greet new moms and their children. She never hesitates to visit a hospital and sit with parents in crisis and makes it a priority to follow up with every family that steps into Club 21's doors.
"When her son Tim passed away suddenly in 2012, everyone held their breath as she bravely walked back into Club 21 and started serving again," said Executive Director Nancy Litteken. "She has never stopped believing in the value of a life touched by Down syndrome, the importance of community on a journey, and the responsibility of all of us to give back. Monica Borquez is a mentor to moms, worker bee volunteer, engaged board member, a trusted friend, a champion to those who have Down syndrome, and a voice, often quiet, that reminds us every day what is important in life."
The Club 21 Learning and Resource Center is currently serving 135 children and are averaging 5 to 10 new children each month. Each new family that joins receives a welcome packet with information on Club 21 programs and services, a Club 21 bib, a homemade blanket and a list of books for both children and parents.
For more information about Club 21's programs and services, or if you would like to assist in providing welcome bags and free speech consultations for new families, please visit http://clubtwentyone.org/.