Alban Díaz will now oversee six clubs, Jessica Castellanos hired

By Staff Report

Alban Díaz

Alban Díaz first attended a clubhouse (later rebranded as one of the many Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley) back in 4th grade when his family moved to San Jose from Mexico. The clubhouse on Crest Avenue was full of many great role models, provided an escape from a cramped apartment, and gave him new opportunities to play sports and create art.

Years later when he was 16, Díaz  got his first summer job, working at the clubhouse. Then, after graduating high school, he came back and was hired on the condition that he enroll in college. So, he worked at the clubhouse and enrolled at Evergreen Community College. During that time, he fell in love with the job, the kids, and the programs.

“You come to realize those kids are you when you were younger; same issues, the same experiences … you get the chance to save them from the same struggles you went through,” he said. “Ever since I got that job, I haven’t felt like I’ve worked a day in my life.”

Díaz was recently promoted. He will now oversee six directors, teaching them how to achieve the same success he’s had in their own clubhouses.

When he first started attending, the clubhouse existed just to keep kids out away from gangs and out of trouble. Then, they started helping kids with homework. Now, each clubhouse is staffed with a number of Youth Development Professionals (YDPs), who each focus on their own area of academic or extracurricular expertise. Clubhouse staff are also trained in how to best aid children with learning disabilities.

Four years after accepting the job from Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley, Díaz was made director of the entire clubhouse. He remained in that position for 14 years, emphasizing respect, responsibility, and fun.

“I think God put me in this position for a reason and helped me to learn quickly,” he said.

The club began to grow, encompassing more programs, more activities, and more kids.

Jessica Castellanos first arrived at the clubhouse as a fourth grader. She is now director of the clubhouse where she first met Díaz so many years ago. Having spent most all of his life in Morgan Hill, Díaz  said the relationships he’s built are the most important.

“This clubhouse we built is Morgan Hill — it’s very representative of Morgan Hill culture,” he said.

He credits the success of the Morgan Hill clubhouse in part to the help from the Kiwanis Club, the local Rotary chapter, Morgan Hill Unified School District, and even Nike and Shoe Palace, among many others who have contributed.

Díaz cites former mayor Steve Tate as a key mentor in his career. When Díaz  was a child, he wrote Mayor Tate a letter. When Alban turned 30, the mayor returned the letter to him having kept it all those years.

Tate called Díaz the heart and soul of the clubhouse.

“The kids of all ages love and respect him so much,” Tate said. “He is so respectful and helpful to them that they thrive under his guidance. He will be hugely missed here, but will be so beneficial to the new clubhouses he will mentor and guide.”

As the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley organization enters its 80th year this year, Díaz said he is looking forward to his role in the future while recognizing the club’s positive impact of the past.

“My job when I get to work is to put a smile on everybody’s face, parents and staff, as well as the kids.” He said. “It’s almost always fun, and I have no gray hairs.”