As the Manteca 4th of July Celebration Committee worked to keep the tradition of Miss Manteca alive through 1994, they were interested in seeing the program transition to new leadership in order to flourish. They invited former pageant director, Ms. Carol Noceti (formerly Gerstel), to serve on the judges panel for their final contest in 1994 in which Donell Carter-Snyder was crowned. After a 3-year hiatus from directing, Noceti was inspired to reinvent the program for a new generation and enlisted the help of her mentee and former Miss Manteca 1990, Shim Lacy, to help her bring her vision to life.
Sitting around Noceti’s kitchen table, Manteca Youth Focus was created. Inspired by the work William R. Smethers and his non-profit Youth Focus Incorporated of San Jose. Noceti and Lacy worked together to hold fast to the wonderful traditions of the past, while reimagining the competition for a new, more modern generation. While the crown and sash would always be a mainstay, it was during this time that what was once a beauty pageant metamorphosed into a true scholarship program. It was a conscious decision on the part of Noceti and Lacy to remove any phases of competition relating to beauty or physical appearance. The program was expanded to include young men to compete for the title of Manteca City Ambassador, the addition of a new teen division for youth ages 13-15 and later in 1999 a new young division for youth ages 10-12.
As stated in their mission statement, Manteca Youth Focus Scholarship Competitions seek to “develop young leaders through the pursuit of higher education, development of personal talents and service throughout the community.” The phases of competition were designed to reflect these values and now include Community Service and Scholastic Achievement as the highest ranking phases; the remaining phases in order of importance include, Personality Interview, Communicative Skills (aka impromptu questions onstage during mock press interview), Stage Arts and Speech. The “pageant rehearsals” morphed into workshops in the areas of leadership development, resume-writing, interview skills, public speaking and dress for success.
The prize package now includes a $1500 educational scholarship for the top boy and girl in the senior division, $500 each in the teen division and $200 each in the young division. All participants regardless of age level or gender participate in the same phases and have the opportunity to earn scholarships regardless of their final rank in the competition.
In 2008, the speech phase was further repurposed into the Community Advocacy Speech which challenges each contestant to promote or advocate for a volunteer cause, organization or event that is personally meaningful to them, what is sometimes referred to as a platform speech. Over the past decade since this change, MYF community advocacy projects under the leadership of each youth participant, have raised thousands of dollars and contributed even more thousands of hours of volunteer service to support organizations such as;
Agape Villages Foster Family Agency,
American Cancer Society,
Children’s Hospital & Research Center of Oakland,
City of Manteca Animal Services,
Cleft Palate Foundation,
Delta Blood Bank,
Doctors without Borders,
Donate Life America,
Every 15 Minutes,
Give Every Child A Chance,
Happy Pet Owners Cat Rescue,
HOPE Family Shelters,
Lathrop Police Services,
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,
Manteca High School Success Locker,
Manteca Little League,
Manteca Police Department Gang Unit
Manteca Police K9 Association,
National MS Society,
Pacer Center for Bullying Prevention,
Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child,
Second Harvest Food Bank,
St. Mary’s Interfaith Dining Hall,
the Angel Gown Project,
the Lisa Project,
and such causes as childhood obesity, sober graduation, human trafficking, distracted driving, children’s literacy, beach clean-up, graffiti removal and city beautification.
Each year Miss Manteca and her fellow MYF volunteers also contribute to signature events across San Joaquin County and Northern California including the Manteca-Sunrise Kiwanis Club Pumpkin Fair, Manteca 4th of July Parade, City of Manteca Holidays in the Park and Twilight Holiday Parade, Crossroads Street Fair, American Heart Association Heart Walk San Joaquin, Second Harvest Food Bank Empty Bowls fundraiser, City of Manteca Parks & Rec Safe Halloween Carnival, and Manteca Chamber of Commerce Coffees and Mixers.
To honor the tremendous work by MYF volunteers each year, Manteca Youth Focus is proud to serve as an official certifying organization for the Points of Light Foundation and reward its youth participants each year with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award package includes a commemorative lapel pin, certificate of recognition from the President’s Council on Service & Civic Participation, and a special letter of commendation signed by the President of the United States.
The Miss Manteca’s of this era continued their participation in the state level competition for the title of Miss California State sponsored by Youth Focus Incorporated of San Jose. Manteca built upon its previous success and continued to place consistently in the top five each year. Additionally at the turn of the millennium, Miss Manteca 2000 Amber Adams-Campbell became the first young woman from Manteca to earn the title of Miss California State, a rare and prestigious accomplishment that was replicated by just four other young women in our community; Miss Manteca 2001-02 Kristina Priest-Stamper, 2009 Amanda Rosas, 2012 Myklyn Balmut, and Miss Pumpkin Fair 2003 Melinda Campero.
100% of the Miss Manteca’s crowned by Manteca Youth Focus have used the scholarships they earned at the state and local level to further their education including:
1995 Tammy Garrison-Tubbs - San Diego State, Webster University and US Air Force
1996-97 Kristina Rich-Busch - CSU Stanislaus
1998 Gina McKeever-Loza - CSU Chico
1999 Tiffany Gerstel-Douglas - UC San Diego
2000 Amber Adams-Campbell - UC San Diego
2001-02 Kristina Priest-Stamper - CSU Stanislaus
2003 Katie Farnsworth - CSU Stanislaus
2004 Michelle Priest - UCLA
2005 Amber Fonseca - University of the Pacific
2006 Lauren Robins-Homer - San Joaquin Delta College
2007 Emma Henry-Birlew - Modesto Junior College and University of the Pacific
2008 Ashley Parker - Sacramento State
2009 Amanda Rosas - CSU Stanislaus
2010 Tanya Towner - CSU Stanislaus
2011 Victoria Watson - Sonoma State and Sacramento State
2012 Myklyn Balmut - USC
2013 Carolina Gutierrez - San Joaquin Delta College and UC Berkeley
2014 Priscilla Ohnmacht - Modesto Junior College and UC Davis
2015 Liana Bassett - Modesto Junior College
2016 Allison Nussbaumer - Grand Canyon University
2017 Christina Arcos - Sonoma State
Manteca has so much to be proud of in remembering and honoring our Miss Manteca’s of the past and present. They are excited to celebrate the vibrant 50-year history at the upcoming competition on Saturday. The program will feature entertainment and special appearances by over 20 Miss Manteca’s, the single largest gathering of the titleholders ever. In addition to the phenomenal presentation of the contestants on-stage, Miss Manteca 1970, Rhonda Behlen-Waddell will also help lead the impromptu question portion of the competition. Tickets are just $10 and available for purchase online at mantecayouthfocus.org or at the door.