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Leaders of Tomorrow: Jose Gomez

Author: Judith M. Wilson
November, 2017 Issue

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When Jose Gomez resurrected Novato High School’s chapter of Friday Night Live (FNL), he took on a challenge—convincing local liquor storeowners to make alcohol less attractive to teenagers. Gomez, 19, was a freshman, when he discovered FNL at a school club fair. FNL’s focus on developing leaders and encouraging healthy lifestyles, impressed him, so he joined and spent time raising awareness of issues related to teenage alcohol consumption and conducting a survey to find out if stores were aware of the laws. FNL disbanded after difficulties with a transition in leadership and the coordinator’s reassignment and was dormant for a year. However, Gomez and his friend, Jack Anderson, revived it when they were juniors, recognizing that alcohol and drugs are a majort part of teenage social life, and FNL could convince young people that booze and drugs aren’t the only way to have a good time.

FNL’s goal was to reduce the amount of alcohol and tobacco advertising in the windows of local liquor stores, and volunteers went out in two-person teams to talk to managers. If they were Spanish speakers, Gomez, who is bilingual, took the lead. He also translated guidelines into Spanish and spoke to Novato Promotores, a Latino group that had identified underage drinking as a major concern and wanted to help. “I was the bridge,” he says. In addition, Gomez and Anderson, who was president, were part of a group that lobbied the Novato City Council to limit the amount of advertising in store windows to 33 percent. Gomez had never spoken before city council. “It was a little nerve- wracking,” he recalls. He adds that the council seemed unaware of the issue and was supportive, asking the group to return with more information.

Gomez has also worked with Ana Salem and the Youth Leadership Institute and is the youngest member of the Marin County Community Development

Agency’s Community Advisory Group for the Assessment of Fair Housing. “Basically, we’re trying to improve fair housing,” he says. According to Gomez, they review statistics and information and work with coordinator Liz Darby to brainstorm and decide how to use the information.

“All the work I’ve done has provided good opportunities,” says Gomez. Now a student at College of Marin, he’s met great people, and his experiences have prepared him better for life after high school. “They’ve taught me a lot. I’m really thankful for that,” he says.

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