Emmanuel “Manny” Amador is a Pivotal Board Member and former foster youth who spearheads the selection process for our highly anticipated 2019 Masters of Change Awards. We caught up with Manny, who shared his thoughts about this awesome award. 

Pivotal: What’s the intention behind the Masters of Change Award?

Manny: I think we all would like to think that whatever success we have is because we did it all on our own. But the truth is that every one of us has had help from someone.  Masters of Change Award was developed by foster youth to recognize the efforts of individual community members who have provided unwavering support to foster kids so they can achieve the life they want and deserve. The award sets the “gold” standard for community support and serves as a beacon for others who want to help but are not sure how.

Pivotal: What’s your own personal connection to the award?

Manny: I’m a former foster youth in Santa Clara County. Many years ago, and more than once, I was helped by multiple agents of change, including Pivotal.  I remember all the unsung heroes during my pursuit of higher education and what they did for me. There are many days I think about them still and wonder where I’d be now without their constant efforts. I’m also a foster parent. The Masters of Change Award fills me with hope for my son’s future because I see the caliber of people in our community who are set on helping foster youth achieve their dreams. To quote John F. Kennedy, “Children are living messages we send to a time we will not see.” I may not live to see this “future,” but my son will hopefully live on to see more Masters of Change create rippling impacts and maybe one day even be a Master of Change himself.

Pivotal: How special are some of the stories by the youth?

Manny: Our youth submit AMAZING stories of how they have been down, but not out. We award in the categories of social worker, employer, and community member. Each awards recipient has helped a foster youth achieve success, be it helping them graduate from high school, getting into college, or giving them their first job or internship. As a Board Member, I love hearing these powerful stories. I enjoy the moment when we hand the winners their award, watching youth look at their mentor with admiration during the ceremony.  They remind me of the support I received when I was a foster youth myself.

Pivotal: Why is the award presented at Mix Masters?

Manny: Mix Masters is our biggest event each year. About 250 people from different sectors in the Valley come together to support Pivotal foster youth at this happy hour event. We present the awards at this event because we want the biggest crowd possible to recognize the work of these remarkable community members.