published on July 27, 2016 - 7:12 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The United Way of Tulare County will formally recognize 14-year-old Carmen Gallegos as Youth Advocate of the Year at a special ceremony to be held Sept. 2.

Gallegos has spent the last year working to raise awareness and funding for drought relief throughout Tulare County.

Through her participation in the Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program, Gallegos started a business called VEPO, which creates unique designs inspired by local issues and then prints them on reusable hard plastic water bottles.

The teen donates 10 percent of the profits from her business to the United Way of Tulare County, where the money has been designated to help get water into the homes of drought victims, especially in East Porterville.

After writing a business plan and pitching her idea to a panel of local investors, Gallegos received $1,100 to launch VEPO at the Visalia Chamber of Commerce Business Appreciation Night Tradeshow.

Since starting her business in May 2016, Gallegos has been able to donate more than $90 to United Way of Tulare County. She is currently working on new designs for her bottles and has been working to expand her business by collaborating with local businesses and clubs to create customized bottles.

“It is exciting to see one of our recent YEA! graduates take their business to the next level,” said Nicola Wissler, YEA! Program Manager. “I am delighted that Carmen has been able to realize her dream of owning her own business while affecting change in the community. We are very proud of her and thrilled that United Way of Tulare County is recognizing her for her hard work.”  

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