By Raiza Giorgi

Every local girl who is named to be the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen gets new families involved and inspires unique ideas for fundraisers.

This year’s queen, Katherine Brocke, may even have inspired new strategies for the Youth Rec board.

SYV Youth Rec Executive Director Frank Kelsey said that Maili Halme, Katherine’s mother, added a powerful social media component to the campaign this year, which he said Youth Rec will try to maintain throughout the year.

‘We need more young blood in our board so they can take over social media. Us old folks have no clue about how to do that,” Kelsey said with a laugh.

“Katherine and her mom Maili were just incredible this year, and I could tell they put in every ounce of energy they had into this. We did really well and made our goal of $150,000,” Kelsey said.

Katherine, 18, plans to attend esthetician school in Los Angeles and then get a business degree. She wants to travel the world and explore how skin care is done in other cultures and countries and then one day move back to the valley and raise a family of her own.

The first Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen in 1955 was Janeen Cassidy, who is still involved with the organization.

SYV Youth Rec has raised more than $3 million in the past 62 years for local youth programs and facilities. It has funded many projects at the high school, elementary and middle schools, and the baseball and soccer fields at Sunny Fields Park, among other accomplishments.

“This year we are looking into putting more sand volleyball courts around the valley, because the one at Sunny Fields has been a huge hit,” Kelsey said.

When Ballard School was remodeled, for example, the group put in the basketball courts, ball fields and playground equipment. Youth Rec also contributed to the construction of the new barn at the high school’s farm, and completed renovations of the baseball fields and softball fields.

Youth Rec continues to sponsor the Youth Basketball and Summer Swim Programs, support Arts Outreach youth programs, and maintain support for local youth teams and tournaments in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.

So far this year, Kelsey said, Youth Rec has contributed to the Christian Academy; 4-H clubs; Nature Track; Buellton and Solvang recreation departments; the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School wrestling team, baseball team, softball team and Grad Night; the Santa Maria Elks Mini Rodeo, by busing kids to the arena; Stuart C. Gildred YMCA; and SYV Youth Football League.

For more information on SYV Youth Rec, log onto