The year 1968 dawned on a high note in the United States with the January 7 launch of NASA’s Surveyor 7. The spacecraft landed successfully on the moon and achieved its mission of photographing the area and testing the composition of the soil. It also gathered the necessary data to determine the feasibility for a manned Moon mission.
The national euphoria was short-lived, followed by an escalation in riots protesting the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the tragic assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King and political icon Robert Kennedy.
In suburbia, residents rode out these highs and lows as they tended to the routines of daily living. The average price of gas was 34 cents a gallon; the newly introduced Big Mac at MacDonald’s was selling for 49 cents; and theater tickets to see shows like “The Graduate” and “Planet of the Apes” cost $1.50.
It was during this seesaw atmosphere of turbulence and routine that Jim and Georgia Lentini welcomed 2018 SCV Man of the Year, Nicholas, into the world. Nick’s little brother, Jeffrey, was born three years later, as the 1971 earthquake was shaking SCV and San Fernando Valley homes.
In spite of the drama provided by the geological and political phenomena, Nick’s childhood was filled with typical extra curricular activities like scouting, baseball, swimming, skiing, skateboarding, biking and boating.
There were also family vacations, which included summer water sports on a houseboat in Lake Shasta and winter vacations skiing at June and Mammoth Mountains. (Nick loved spending time with his brother, parents, grandparents and friends and continues the annual tradition today with his own family: wife Elise, and sons Dominic and Marco.)
In November of 1979, Nick’s family life changed when he proudly served as best man at his dad’s wedding to step mom Susan. Jim and Susan welcomed Nick and Jeff into their Santa Clarita home and Nick began developing ties to his new community and friends.
Nick attended Sierra Vista Junior High and Canyon High School, supplementing his studies with church youth activities, Canyon football, and a variety of after-school jobs, most notably as pizza maker for Blackie’s on Soledad Canyon, which he claims served the best pizza he’s ever had.
Following high school graduation in 1986, Nick attended College of the Canyons, meeting future wife Elise two years later. His academic experiences bolstered an interest in insurance and investments, prompting him to become a licensed agent and joining his father in the family business in 1989.
In 1993, the cost of a gallon of gas was $1.16, a loaf of bread went for $1.57, and it cost $4.14 to see shows like “Jurassic Park,” and ”Indecent Proposal.”
With school commitments completed and careers established, Nick and Elise were ready to commit to a more fitting proposal. The couple exchanged wedding vows at St. Claire’s Church that year and settled into a home in the Old Orchard I community in Valencia.
The arrival of their sons, Dominic in 1999, and Marco in 2003 coincided with career advancements for Nick, who earned the designation of Life Underwriters Training Council Fellow, and passed the Series 6, 7, 63 and 66 licensing tests to become an Investment Advisor Representative.
As the boys grew, Nick passed on the values he learned growing up – encouraging them to try new things, from sports, to activities, to clubs. He told them that it didn’t matter if they won or lost or even if they liked what they tried, the important thing was to do their best, have a good time, and learn something new. He has been a part of the boys’ Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts experiences, has served as a flag football coach, and is currently their SCVi High School Golf Team coach.
Sharing activities with his family reflects Nick’s philosophy of “giving back” and he carries that philosophy to the community. He hopes to make Santa Clarita a better place as he teaches Dominic and Marco the value of volunteerism – a passion he developed while accompanying Jim and Susie on their volunteer projects for the early Boys & Girls Club fundraising auctions.
Nick’s first volunteer task in his own right was for the New Year’s Eve Bootleggers Balls held in the 1990s. The fund-raisers benefited the Association to Aid Victims of Domestic Violence (AAVDV). He convinced Elise and friends that it would be great fun to build and paint enormous sets for the event. Their first endeavor was such a success that the set building continued for several years.
The Bootleggers Ball was the starting point for a commitment to volunteering that has led to leadership positions on the boards of AAVDV, the Chamber of Commerce, Santa Clarita Rotary, American Cancer Society, Child and Family Center, Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Advisory Committee, COC Foundation, COC Board Governance Committee, and Cub Scouts Pack 608.
Nick is a past president of the Rotary Club, chairman of Citizens Oversight Committee for bond Measure M and E, and has served as secretary and president of the Child and Family Center Foundation board, creating and chairing the Center’s Trike Derby fund-raiser in 2017. Nick has been honored as the 2012 SCV Rotarian of the Year, 2016 COC Alumni of the Year, and 2017 SCVi Vision in Education Benefit Dinner Family of the Year, and is hopeful that his 30 years of volunteering will inspire younger generations to participate in service to important causes, worthwhile charities, and those in need.
National events may shape the world stage and the price of food, theatre tickets, and gasoline will always be in flux, but Nick’s commitment to his family and community has remained steadfast, which inspired the SCV Man and Woman of the Year committee to select him as their 2018 honoree.