Articles, Blog

Oscar Memorial

Hi! I’m Walter Philips. CEO for San Diego Youth Services and I’ve
had the honor of knowing Oscar for the last several years and how he became such a critical
part of our family here at San Diego Youth Services. Oscar first came to us when he was on the
streets, having come from a dysfunctional home that was ravaged with substance abuse,
in and out of the foster care system. I met Oscar on the first day he walked into
the door with San Diego Youth Services. We’ve been friends ever since. He was definitely like my brother. So he continued to progress, got his education,
got his driver’s license, which he was so proud about. At that time, he started becoming an advocate
for youth. Not only was he receiving services, but he
said “I want to do something more and do something that’s bigger than myself.” He has such a drive and such a passion for
the work that he does and just for life in general that it’s hard not to take that on
from him. It was so contagious. He was extremely dedicated and the driving
force behind TAY Academy for what it is. If I can just have an ounce of that dedication,
I swear I can make it through anything. He’s funny. He’s outgoing. He’s a one-of-a-kind person that you’ll never
see in your life and he was really cool. He was not just a staff here. He was our friend, the one guy who pushed
us to be better than what we are and helped us get to where we need to be and he gave us
so many opportunities and was the backbone and support of TAY. So many young people in this place want to
be like him and want to be advocates for the youth who are struggling. I feel like that it’s really unfortunate that
I’ve learned more about him now than I did before. About all the things he does and the programs
he’s participated in and all the you know events that he’s been a part of and I’m just
completely amazed about everything that he has done and achieved. Oscar became an advocate at the state level,
on a statewide board with me, where he was going into legislative offices and championing
youth issues and mostly disenfranchised youth, homeless youth, at-risk youth, those youth
who really don’t have a chance in this life, Oscar wanted to give them that opportunity
and that chance. He set me up with an opportunity to change
my life before he went and I’m very grateful for that and I think the only way to repay
him is by succeeding. So knowing that he would never give up is
the driving force that keeps us moving. Pretty impressive to see that energy and I
think it’s inspiring to us as staff and certainly that we’re gonna do the best that we can to
keep his heart alive. And he has definitely set up an expectation
that I hope I’ve even come close to following because he has changed the lives of so many
people. Yeah, it’s a huge loss. Not just for the people that he helped, but
also for the people that he was going to help. That number is even hard to comprehend. And so in his honor, we are going to be recognizing
Oscar in a way that will help other youth. I’m personally very saddened and will miss
Oscar deeply and I know we all will. Thanks Oscar. We’ll miss you. I wanna thank everybody at San Diego Youth
Services. You guys are number 1. Thank you. [clapping]

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