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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Fernando "Junior" Buendia believes in bringing everyone together to create change

(Editor's note: We are kicking off a new regular feature in our social section, profiling community members who work hard everyday to give back.

Fernando Buendia Laysa, known to friends as "Junior," was born in San Diego "sometime in the 1980s" and grew up here. He says that he is "recently and happily taken."

What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?

I started taking a Teacher’s Education Class as an elective at UCSD and found that I loved working with kids. Afterwards, I continued to volunteer at John Otis Elementary School in National City.

When I started coaching football with the San Diego American Flag Football League (SDAFFL), I realized that my team really believed in me, so I decided to drag them to do similar projects such as tutoring, school clean-ups, and fundraising at schools that needed help.

Collectively, I felt we were able to give back more to the youth who really need us.

Soon the "Stunnas" team that I created shifted from [just being] a football team, to welcoming anyone who was willing to volunteer to help kids.

We have since worked with Gompers Charter School and more recently, Memorial Prep in Barrio Logan.

The connection with the latter school was brought to me by Dr. Delores Jacobs of The San Diego LGBT Community Center. I confided in her about [wanting] to find a school that most needed our help, regardless of being a group of volunteers with “mixed” sexualities.

We do not come to any school to advocate “gay” anything, but also don't want to hide it, either. We have one goal and that is only to help the youth the best way we can.

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

I look up to Martin Luther King Jr. a lot and in his "Drum Major Instinct" speech, he touches upon how it is an innate feeling for people to want to be recognized for something and it is okay. He adds that he wants to be recognized for trying to make a positive difference in the world around him or die trying. That is what I truly want, as well.

I have an active interest in wanting to help our youth, because I feel that if we can expose the youth to positive role models of different backgrounds (sexualities, genders, age, ethnicities) then they will eventually grow up to be more open-minded adults who respect other people for their differences and lifestyles.

If we help the youth and invest some time in educating them, we help the future and future generations to come.

Do you volunteer because of your work, or not? And what do you do for a career?

The volunteer work I do is not related in any way to my work. I am a lab manager for an Italian-owned biotech company and work primarily with performing and analyzing data from experiments related to specific cancers.

What is something that many people do not know about you?

I eat fast food every day!

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

I’d love to see more partnerships between organizations and local businesses in order to get more work done. This includes taking care of city clean ups, elder care, and youth education.

One person or organization can do a lot. However, we can get a lot more accomplished if we all work together.

What do you like most about the local LGBT community?

I feel that there is a lot of opportunity in our community to get the information and help you need about almost anything. Because of the changing times and evolving technology, it is easy to access information about sports, health, and news!

The best thing about the LGBT community is our sports leagues. They are very welcoming and don’t discriminate against anyone. Many heterosexuals even play in our leagues and it is nice to see us all having fun together. I love seeing families on the sidelines when we play our games.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?

I love eating and playing sports, so I try to do as much of both of those to keep me happy! When I’m just relaxing, I like to write and listen to music.

Buendia recently organized a fundraiser, "We Care," at Eden. The event brought together community members and several local LGBT sports leagues to collect toys and raise funds for children in need. Buendia says that nearly 300 people attended the event, which raised $2,300 for The San Diego LGBT Community Center and Memorial Preparatory Academy.