Pleasanton couple's dog a winning wiener

"In the seven years they have been together, Patrick Major has seen Sammy Davis transform from a playful pet to one of the fastest dachshund racers in the state. Even though he stands only about 6 inches tall, Sammy can pump his stubby little legs and leap through the air to catch Frisbees nearly as big as he is. And, this pooch was a doggie pinup in the International Disc Dog calendar three years running." Read More Here


Chess Scores

Scores will be updated soon.

Scrabble Scores

Scores will be updated soon.


Bay Area Jefferson Award Foundation Winner 2017

Posted on January 2nd, 2018

Allen Martin, KPIX-TV, San Francisco visited the St. Raphael School Chess Club operated by Christopher Major, President / Founder of Novato Chess Club, a 501c(3) not for profit public benefit corporation serving the North Bay.

A Jefferson Award Foundation recipient for 2017 for community service.

Learn more about how your high school can become a Bay Area Jefferson Award Foundation participant. ‘

Email: Jodie Russi for more information on this free high school program – (


The Jefferson Awards Foundation were established in 1972 to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.
Novato Chess Club HYA/ Hayward Youth Academy (HYA), and a guest are invited to join us as we honor the KPIX 5 and KCBS Radio 2017 Jefferson Awards Foundation (Bay Area) Winners!
Wednesday January 17, 2018
Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Program begin at 6:00pm.
Reception to follow in the Green Room.
Business Attire






2017 Jefferson Award Winner for Public Service – Christopher Major, President HYA

Posted on March 22nd, 2017
I nominate a man named Chris Major for consideration as a Jefferson Awards recipient.
Chris is a dynamic, motivational Bay Area native with a passion for helping youth in the Bay Area realize their potential, and encouraging them to consider the possibility of attending college.  Chris has personally started two charities in the Bay Area: The Novato Chess Club and The Hayward Youth Academy.
The Novato Chess Club is an after school program for kids that also includes an arm of public speaking and leadership training.  Chris is a former teacher who recognizes that the hours of 3-6pm are the most critical time to keep kids safe and involved in constructive activities.  So he founded the Novato Chess Club as a way to do this  as it teaches chess to students in elementary and middle schools and also offers public speaking and leadership training to youth.
Hayward Youth Academy is a program that he started 2005.  It is basically an educational consulting firm for parents and it advocates for parents and children alike.  For example, if parents are having issues with schools or a teacher, and the parents don’t understand what the teacher or school is asking, HYA will go in with the parent to help get the child on the right track.  HYA also offers bilingual guidance and help for parents who might need this to better understand the teacher or school administrator.
HYA also helps parents recognize the importance of having structured activities for their children to do after school and will help them in finding resources that are available for this.  HYA is also currently helping to build a school in West Uganda: the St. Jude Community Kamwezi School as Chris is  working with Fr. Samuel, a visiting priest in St. Isabella’s Church in San Raphael who is involved with this project in Uganda.
Finally, (and this is how I know Chris) the Hayward Youth Academy and Novato Chess Club both are involved in a program Chris developed called the College Outreach Program which he started in 2007.
Chris wanted to spark children’s motivation internally and get at-risk kids to think early on about attending college.  SO, he reaches out to students in a variety of economic situations and “regardless of race, color, creed” gets them to think about attending college while they are young!
Twice a year he raises money to take mostly middle-school youth out to St. Mary’s College to tour the campus, eat in the cafeteria with the college students, hear a motivational speaker talk to them about the importance of college, and then attend a St. Mary’s basketball game. The students experience a full afternoon of college life….and they LOVE it!
When I did the speaking this last month, Chris (in partnership with St. Mary’s College) had the baseball team athletes lead the tours around campus.  Then the kids came in and had a free dinner in the actual college cafeteria (standing in line with the college students!), and then they got to hear two motivational speakers speak about the importance of setting goals, working hard, and seeking out opportunities to attend college.   Each student received a t-shirt to commemorate the day and the experience, and then he/she got to attend a D-I college basketball game.
Most of these kids had not set foot on a college campus before in their lives….and they came that day and had a whole new world opened up to them. 🙂   (It was truly a magical experience for me, too, to be involved in this!  I LOVED it….and loved seeing the kids–and some of their parents– come and for the first time in their lives, consider the possibility of college.)
Anyway, Chris Major is the man who has made all this happen.  Because of his ability to engage and mentor both youth and parents in the Bay Area, I nominate him for a Jefferson Award! 

I’m a little lost: Thank You, HYA!

Posted on September 21st, 2016

ugandaworkIn 2013, (HYA) made a Rotary mission trip to Jinja, Uganda for the purpose of locating fresh water systems for rural villages. The issue of sustainability ‘viability were most paramount on my mind. During that visit, I learned about Naomi’s plight….

I met Christopher Major when I was 12…

Saint Mary’s College Intercultural Center: Black Graduate Celebration 2016

Posted on May 16th, 2016
Last week, I received a request from the SMC Intercultural Center to serve as alumni pinner for the 2016 black graduation ceremony for Saint Mary’s College (CA).
My response below:
Hi Chris. My name is Cesar Ramos and I am the Coordinator of the Intercultural Center.
I was wondering if you were interested in being our alumni pinner at this year’s Black Graduate Celebration at SMC. After each student is presented to the audience, they will walk over to the alumni pinner and get pinned.
The ceremony takes place on Thursday May 19th at 6 p.m. cover-small1We’d love to have you do this as someone that has always supported SMC and the students!
Please let me know if you are available and interested. Thank you!


Cesar Ramos M.P.A., Coordinator, Intercultural Center 


 Dear Cesar,

It would be an honor recognizing the hard work, effort and determination of the students receiving their degree.

I believe a degree from Saint Mary’s College of California is an unique achievement and honor. Especially, given the difficulty in obtaining that level of education for many students, anywhere! A Lasallian education is the best education. As a proud graduate, athlete, and HP student (under the direction of Tom Brown) – it is truly an honor accepting your invitation. It should be a evening of celebration for our students of diversity. A degree from SMC opens all possible options in life. No excuses, beautiful.


HYA Baseball 4 East Africa & Chess – Migori, Kenya

Posted on July 25th, 2015

hyargbfinalChris Major, HYA President will embark on a Rotary baseball and chess fellowship mission to East Africa, June 24- July 26, 2016. The host club is the Rotary Club of Suna-Migori, Kenya, D9212. Chris is a member of the Rotary Club of San Rafael Harbor, D5150 USA. He encourages Rotarian and non-Rotarian global partners for this youth outreach in Migori County, Kenya, East Africa.

We are actively collecting youth baseball equipment. If you have old equipment; (bats, helmets, shoes, gloves, baseball, softballs, bottled water) we appreciate your donating them to HYA Baseball 4 East Africa & Fellowship mission.

We are exploring a 15U travel baseball team to play in Migori, Kenya in 2017.

For equipment donation, send email to: HYA is a 501c(3) not for profit public benefit; tax deductible corporation. We accept donations using paypal. (


Ben Onam, Rotary Club of Suna-Migori, Charter President, 2012-13, Peter Ndaga, Kenya Little League, and David Waore, Kenya Little League are developing youth baseball in the community. An exciting and historic proposal in Africa. We salute their incredible progress over the past 5 years.


Saint Mary’s College of California Alumni Magazine. Paying It Forward: “Sharing the Spirit” Autumn 2008

1. Chairman: Joseph Odero-

2. Secretary: David Waore –

3. Coach: Peter Ndaga –

4. Rotarian Benedict Onam, Rotary Club Suna-Migori –

Our goal would be a 17 day goodwill ambassador trip to Migori, Kenya, Africa. This would include Rotarians, non-Rotarians, corporate interest, investors, players & parents on a historic trip to Migori, Kenya, Africa: July 2016.

Sharing the Spirit, Autumn 2008



1. To involve the youths in activities that help them to interact and team up their energies in achieving socio-economic and cultural gains
2.To foster the spirit of peaceful co-existence.

To make baseball and softball a sport that fosters the spirit of fair competition, determination and tolerance, culminating into peace building.

Strive for Excellenceb4a2

Historical Background
Baseball and softball are games that are completely alien to Migori County. Before 2010, the two sporting activities were never known to the people, young and old, of Migori. Around about the month of February, 2010 Bishop Esau Jobando of Africa Outreach Ministries Church, an affiliate of the Hands On Africa Mission, approached the management and head teachers of some neighboring schools within the catchment area of the church, to allow for the introduction of baseball in their schools. This was going to be initiated by some interested missionaries from the United States of America, who were soon paying visit to the region on courtesy of his Africa Outreach Ministries. Eight schools, St. Kathrin Warisia, Wasio, Midoti, Siling, Kowiti, Got Kachola, and Kilimanjaro Primary Schools were (recruited) included in the initial introduction. In March, 2010, Thomas Wilson, pictured below in action, from Chicago

G:\bluetooth\TOM WILSON.jpg
 Illinois led a team of four other baseball experts in conducting a workshop and clinic in baseball for the heads, the games teachers and school community members. The workshop and clinic which addressed the basics and originality of baseball, went for a whole week. The schools were later given the baseball equipment which included, myths, bating sticks, balls for the baseball and softball, catcher’s gears, helmets and base pads. Each school was also given a set of uniforms for boys and girls including the caps. The trained personnel’s from each school were requested to form teams for 12U and 15U both boys and girls and to start practicing for competitions immediately. Thomas Wilson and his team visited each school to give introductory training to the players and popularize the game. In July of the same year 2010, Tom, as Thomas Wilson was later to be popularly known, led another team of experts from the US, who went around the eight schools, training and also assessing the level of skills acquisition amongst the players. A tournament involving the players of the eight schools was organized at Wasio School umpired by Tom and his colleagues from the US.

In September 2010, Tom returned with a big group of youths. Amongst them was Jenna, who went round the schools to introduce the girls to the softball game. And as usual, Tom and his group made visits to the schools and at the end of the visits, a tournament was organized at Wasio Primary School to mark the end of that season as is indicated in the picture below.

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2011 was a year which saw some good improvements in the game. Mr. Peter Ndaga pictured below

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was formally appointed by Tom to help beef up the training and coaching by making school visits during the days of the week throughout the school term.

In 2013 there were only two visits i.e. in March and September. In March a playing field was done at Wasio Primary complete with a backstop and players’ dug-outs. It became the first field with a backstop in the country. This development boosted the morale of the trainers, coaches and players. In September of the same year, a similar field was done at Ugari Primary school. During this visit, no training and tournament took place since there was a national strike of all teachers.

2014, March saw teams from Meru County in Eastern Kenya and Nairobi County teams coming to Migori for a National tournament. The two fields hosted the tournament, which saw Meru Team scoop the Under 17 girl’s baseball, Nairobi team taking the Under 17 boys baseball whereas Migori scooped the coveted 15 U boys’ team. Trophies were awarded to the winning teams in each category.

There were visits in September 2014 and in December 13th – 21st, 2014; Meru hosted the continental championship to pick the best team to represent Africa at the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) championships in Japan in August. 2015.

Five players from Migori association were selected to form the Team Kenya at the Tournament. Three officials (Scorers) also accompanied the Migori team.
Our Association has developed a very healthy partnership with the Rotary Club of Suna – Migori with the help of the Charter President – 2013/2014, Rtn. Benedict Onam. His club assisted the association to put up a field at the Ugari Primary School as can be seen in the picture below.

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among other Logistics support offered by the club. It is in this regard that we invite other groups or clubs to get this intellectually demanding game introduced in this part of Kenya.

•Schools have some equipment which, although inadequate, enables the teams to practice effectively.

•Migori team has the 15U boys trophy which they won in 2014 at the Baseball Federation of Kenya (BFK) championships

•5 Baseball players in the picture below, have been selected to form the BFK national team

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1.Inadequate trained baseball and softball personnel i.e. umpires, coaches and scorers

2.Inadequate equipment, especially mitts and uniforms

3.Resources to run training and to organize friendlies against other teams

4.Being a newly introduced sport, many people do not understand its mechanism – hence they don’t enjoy it.

5.Lack of publicity mechanisms

1.Chairman: Joseph Odero-

2.Secretary: David Waore –

3.Coach: Peter Ndaga –

4.Rtn Benedict Onam –


Sam’s Place for Novato Chess Club, Session I

Posted on February 7th, 2015

Novato Chess Club (NCC) is a 501c(3) not for profit public benefit corporation, serving Novato and Marin County, USA. (Federal tax id: 46-5381938)

ncclogoWe are funded through fee based programs, private donations, grants, small business, corporations, and our annual winter HYA College Outreach fundraising campaign.

We announce our Novato Chess Club Summer Instructional Chess Program beginning the week of: June 15, 2015.

We offer 4 sessions for the summer!

June 16* to July 21* Session I (6 weeks, $125)

June 18 to July 23 Session II (6 weeks, $125)

July 28* to September 1 Session III (6 weeks, $125)

July 30 to September 3 Session IV (6 weeks, $125)

Classes will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. (75 minutes per session, 6 weeks)

Location: Sam’s Place, 1545 N. Novato Blvd

Time: 9:30-10:45

Registration fee: $25

Program fee: $100

Total fee: $125*

Maximum capacity: 16

Ages 8 to 14 


Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise: Swallowfield Learning Center (Jamaica)

Posted on February 7th, 2015

rcnsbannerDevelopment of the Swallowfield Children Learning Centre

Rotary Club of New Kingston, Jamaica, W.I.



1. Rotaract Club of New Kingston

2. Swallowfield Chapel

3. St John Ambulance


In 2005 the Rotary Club of New Kingston launched a Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) project in the Swallowfield community in collaboration with the Swallowfield Chapel. Swallowfield is a poor community of Kingston which from time to time experiences upsurges in violence including gun violence. The chapel is a focal point in the community which is involved in affecting social change in the community in addition to its religious responsibilities. GSAT is the examination which children of around 11 years old sit to determine which high school they will be placed in. Higher scores in GSAT translate into placement in the favoured high schools. The project has enjoyed major success and challenges over these years and is now in need of strengthening and repositioning.

The current GSAT centre host about 45 children ages (3 – 16) for classes each week; however, early in the project it was recognized that a severe challenge to success of the project was literacy. Children were reading far below their grade levels and several students in the GSAT classes could not understand the instructions given. Furthermore, as news of the centre spread children who were younger and older than GSAT ages from several communities other than Swallowfield started to attend weekly. The centre has become a focal point for pre-GSAT, GSAT and post GSAT children and the teaching and learning priorities have changed.

Based of the recommendation of the Rotaract Club of New Kingston, which has led activities at the GSAT centre, we propose that a comprehensive Children Learning Centre be developed for the Swallowfield community.

Rationale for Development of the Swallowfield Children Learning Centre

The Rotaractors, based on their experience with this project have concluded that there is an urgent need for social intervention in the community for the following reasons :

the level of violence is increasing;

the behaviour of the children is often not conducive to teaching and learning and there is need for remedial intervention in literacy and possibly numeracy ; 2 due to the wide spread in the ages (3-16 years) of the children attending the centre a one size fits all approach cannot be taken.

An excellent opportunity exists for collaboration with St John Ambulance for the training of children of all ages in First AID. Training in First AID has been shown to be a life changing experience since it equips children (and adults) with essential life saving skills. There are several instances in which children trained in First AID have saved the lives of victims of accident and violence. Persons trained in stopping bleeding and saving lives will be less prone to violent behaviour.

The children at the Centre are currently involved in sports through the Boys Club and Girls Club associated with the church. These activities can be enhanced through volunteer coaches, training in First Aid skills and the provision of first aid equipment.


The overall aim of the project is to develop a Learning Centre for children ages 3-16 in Swallowfield, which addresses their educational, social and spiritual needs.


1. Literacy and Scholastic training

a. Assess the literacy levels of all children in the Centre

b. 70% of children to be reading at their grade level by the end of Year 1

c. 100% of children to be reading at their grade level by the end of Year 2

d. Increase passes at GSAT to traditional high school from 0 to 50% by end of YR 1

e. Increase passes at GSAT to traditional high school to 70% by end of YR 2

2. Social skills

a. Increase resiliency of children to violence and destructive behaviour through First AID training.

i. 50% of children certified as First AIDERS by the end of Year 1

ii. 100% of children certified as First AIDERS by end of YR 2

iii. 100% receive conflict resolution training

b. Develop teamwork through sports

i. Identify volunteer sport personalities to teach sports

c. Increase cognitive and social skills through chess

i. 100% of student involved in learning chess by end of Year 1

d. Teaching of social skills

i. At least one educational field trip per year

ii. At least four movie days per year

iii. Christmas party


3. Spiritual development

This will be the responsibility of Swallowfield Chapel


1. Literacy and Scholastic training

A reading specialist will be hired to assess the literacy levels of all children in the Centre. The Specialist will assist volunteers in the delivery of reading lessons. Furthermore, a GSAT tutor will be hired to deal specifically with that cohort and also to train volunteers in delivering GSAT material.

Ten personal computers and 40 licences for Computer-Assisted Literacy Solution (CALS) provided to clubs through Rotary International.

Each child will be supplied with learning materials as necessary (books, erasers, pencil, crayon etc) and the facilities at the centre will be upgraded for teaching (white boards, erasers, and pens).

2. Social skills

First AID training

St John Ambulance will conduct 90 minute training sessions in First AID after scholastic activities at the Centre. St John will provide a single trainer who will train all volunteers (Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Church volunteers) in First AID and these persons will act as mentors during the training of the children.

Chess lessons

Liguanea Chess Club will provide a teacher for each week at a cost of $5000.00/week. The coach will train older children to act as mentors for the younger ones.

Teaching of social norms and mores

Children will be taken on at least one education field trip per year under the supervision of the volunteers and parents. These trips will be sponsored and focussed on Jamaica’s rich history and culture and on career opportunities. Movie days will involve the showing of DVDs in –house.

Develop teamwork through sports

The club will invite volunteer coaches to give lessons in techniques in soccer and other sports currently played by the children. Furthermore, well known sports personalities will be asked to give motivational talks to the children at the Centre.

3. Spiritual development

This will be the responsibility of Swallowfield Chapel


a. Funding

Currently, there is no systematic method of funding the project. The Rotary Club of New Kingston will apply for a matching grant to support the project.

b. Volunteers

Members of the Rotary Club of New Kingston have not consistently supported the project by acting as teachers and mentors. This has resulted in undue burden on the Rotaractors; it follows therefore that the network of volunteers should be expanded.

c. Social conditions of the community and family support.


8. Proposed Financing

MG application #


Please list all financing and indicate Cash or Share (DDF) amounts.

US$ Cash US$ DDF* DRFC Name / Signature* Host Country Rotary Clubs/Districts

New Kingston D-7020

$ 1,900

$ 5,550

Total Host Country Contributions $ 7,450 35% International Rotary Clubs/Districts

Other MG Club & District DDF

$ 6,000

$ 8,000

Total International Contributions $ 14,000 65% Total Contributions $ 7,900 $ 13,550 $ 21,450 100% TRF Award Amount (50% Cash, 100% DDF) 3,950 13,550 17,500 Total Matching Grant Funding $ 38,950 Funding from other sources**

– Total Project Funding (must be equal to Budget) $ 38,950

If SHARE District Designated Funds (DDF) are part of the funding for this Matching Grant,

have the Chair of the District Rotary Foundation Committee (DRFC) sign above, or have

the DRFC Chair submit a letter authorizing their use. Only the chair, on behalf of the DRFC,

can authorize the use of SHARE DDF.


Please identify the source of other funding.


8. Proposed Financing

MG application #


Please list all financing and indicate Cash or Share (DDF) amounts.

US$ Cash US$ DDF* DRFC Name / Signature*

Host Country Rotary Clubs/Districts

New Kingston Rotary Club

$ 2,500

$ 7,675

Total Host Country Contributions $ 10,175 49%

International Rotary Clubs/Districts

$ 3,000

$ 7,675

Total International Contributions $ 10,675 51%

Total Contributions $ 5,500 $ 15,350 $ 20,850 100%

TRF Award Amount (50% Cash, 100% DDF) 2,750 15,350 18,100

Total Matching Grant Funding $ 38,950

Funding from other sources**

Total Project Funding (must be equal to Budget) $ 38,950


If SHARE District Designated Funds (DDF) are part of the funding for this Matching Grant,

have the Chair of the District Rotary Foundation Committee (DRFC) sign above, or have

the DRFC Chair submit a letter authorizing their use. Only the chair, on behalf of the DRFC,

can authorize the use of SHARE DDF.


Please identify the source of other funding

Brad Waldow Visits Hamilton Meadow Park School: Inspiring Wonder in Youth

Posted on November 21st, 2013

An important educational outreach visit from Saint Mary’s College star center, Brad Waldow “inspired wonder” at the Hamilton Meadow Park School in Novato.

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon,  Brad spoke on the importance of time management, being your own leader, and staying focused on academics. He spoke of his personal goal of being an accountant, and earning his bachelor of science and masters degree from Saint Mary’s College.

The joy of college bound kids

The joy of college bound kids

Inspiring the students to think beyond athletics, he stated, “if I was not a basketball player, I still could have gone to any college in the nation because of my academic success in high school. Once you get to college, it is important for you to have the discipline to stay focused on the goal of education.”

Many thanks to Tanya Madsen, Hamilton Meadow Park AVID coordinator for her leadership,  organizing this educational outreach for her AVID students, and the middle school population. On January 25, 2014, Ms Madsen’s 57 AVID students will travel to Saint Mary’s College for an early college outreach, organized by Novato Chess Club (HYA), the purpose of this field trip is to:

1. expose: 1st generation college bound students, parents, and guardians to a college environment

2. inform: students, parents, and administrators of college requirements and alternative admission programs

3. reinforce: academic goals, and responsibility

Partnering with Saint Mary’s College make this program affordable for all youth.  Read more about the HYA College Outreach Program, and get your child involved.

A Rotary Literacy Mission in Africa

Posted on November 9th, 2013

A three-week trip to Uganda and Nigeria grew from a Rotary Club outreach project evolved into an eye-opening, life-changing experience for Chris Major.

Jinja student overjoyed, upon learning his school fees will be covered by HYA for the final term of 2013

In March, the Novato resident and member of the Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise embarked on a journey that he won’t soon forget.

“The first thing you learn is what we take for granted,” Major said. “Things as basic as clean drinking water and a public education system that works. We have a basic fundamental right to have an education … and we complain about it.”

As an educator and advocate for youth programs, these topics hit home for Major. And as founder of the Novato Chess Club and leader of the Rotary’s New Generation program, he’s continually working to benefit children. His Facebook page details his efforts.

One reason for the trip was to carry on Rotary Club outreach projects. There are more than 1.2 million Rotarians in about 200 countries; one of the club’s international projects was digging water wells in the African region Major was visiting.

Major, 51, admitted that seeing the poverty-stricken villagers was saddening, but there was an upside. “If you saw how hard the kids are working, it renews your spirit.”

Major said that the young kids in Africa realize the value of an education — it’s a ticket straight from poverty to potential. He said the kids who are afforded an education are in school from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and are sometimes taught two or three languages.

Coincidentally, March was Literacy Month for the Rotarians.

It’s no small undertaking to make this journey, but Major admits to having personal motivations as well as Rotarian.

“As an African-American, I have always wanted to go to Africa,” he said.

The Rotary Club of Novato Sunrise raised $1,500 to help defray the costs, and Major said, “Once I bought that ticket, I knew I was in it.”

He was still taking pills to ward off malaria weeks after returning and it was “an amazing amount of shots” he endured before embarking.

Major’s hosts, he said, could not have been more welcoming. “Black Americans are treated with tremendous respect and dignity,” he said.

Major had the chance to speak to several Rotary Clubs while on his journey, as well as an Interact Club and colleges.

Witnessing the hard work of the locals was one of the trip’s high points, but so was the global outreach that Major experienced. He reminisced about young volunteers from throughout Europe who were helping the villagers. “I was amazed at the pipeline to get in and help,” he said.

(This article originally published by Chris Rooney, Novato Patch, April 15, 2013!

Related Topics: NigeriaNovato Chess ClubRotary Club of Novato Sunrise, and UgandaNovatoClubBanner

Saint Mary’s College Alumni: Paying it Forward

Posted on November 1st, 2013

When he was at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, Christopher Major ’83 accomplished a lot as the football quarterback and a baseball outfielder, along with being the first black class president. But he didn’t think much about where he would go to college. “I had a goal for college, but not much of a plan,” he says.

“I was just in the moment every day. Until the day Saint Mary’s College of California gave me a plan.”  cover-small1

That day came when the Moreau baseball team played De La Salle, and then-SMC coach Miles McAfee was in the stands. The next thing Major knew, he was offered a baseball scholarship at Saint Mary’s. Major’s high school grades weren’t great; he remembers having a 2.6 or 2.7 GPA.

But he was accepted into Saint Mary’s High Potential Program, which offers access and support services to students from historically low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Major did well at Saint Mary’s, and after graduating he spent years working in the corporate world as an insurance risk manager, loan officer and insurance agent. He now looks back at the 1980s as a time when financial success and material values were more important than helping others and giving back to the community.

In the mid-90s, Major realized that he had “hit the wall” in his career, and he decided that he wanted to work with young people. He received a teacher’s credential and taught special education students. Major dreamed of starting a small nonprofit company for disadvantaged youngsters. In 2005, he started the Hayward Youth Academy, where he is the president. The academy provides comprehensive educational, recreational and support services for youths ages 9 to 15. The program focuses on academics, athletics, life coaching and health and nutrition support. It also provides assistance to families and guardians through community resource information and parenting workshops.

Major, who also works with the YMCA Eden Area and the Treeview Little League in Hawyard, says anyone can make a difference through volunteering with young people. “The time you spend with kids tells them that they have value,” Major says. “I deal with a lot of wealthy kids whose parents want to write me a check. I say, ‘Write me a check, but also come down here and help the kids.’ When parents and guardians spend time with children, they start to learn more about their own kids’ fears and aspirations.”

Read the Rest on Saint Mary’s…