A Product of Boys & Girls Clubs, Hermosa Beach’s Jason Meugniot Pays It Forward

Making his move.

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  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk

When sitting at the chessboard, Jason Meugniot points out the knight as his favorite playing piece. “I consider it a special piece. It’s tricky and sometimes elusive and forks, and it’s the only piece that moves in a nonlinear way.” 

He first learned how to play chess at the Boys Club, now Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. As both of his parents worked until 5 or 6 p.m., Jason walked from school to the club. Chess is not only his favorite hobby; it also taught him something about himself. 

For a young Jason, the club offered a vast array of activities, resources and even a library. Students had the option to either do their homework, play sports or tinker with computers. There is and always will be a special place in Jason’s heart for the deep rewards and experiences he enjoyed during this time in his life. In many ways these experiences significantly helped shape him into the man he has become today. 

“The club really helped in my development. I had a lot of opportunities in the library and on the computers, which played a huge impact on my life today,” shares Jason. 

He majored in religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara while also playing volleyball. “Majoring in computer science in 1989 would have been like majoring in breathing (yawn …),” he explains. “By the time I got to college it was obvious my career would be in technology, which I think in part is owed to the club and them opening up this opportunity for me.” 

Predominantly a self-taught programmer, Jason vividly remembers the day when Mr. Casper, his fourth grade teacher, received a TRS-80 Model III computer. Anxious with anticipation for days while the computer sat in the classroom—untouched and covered in plastic—Jason finally talked Mr. Casper into letting him read the manual. By the time the teacher returned, not only did Jason figure out the computer but he created a check register for him to use. 

“The club really helped in my development. I had a lot of opportunities in the library and on the computers, which played a huge impact on my life today.”

After receiving his first computer as a Christmas present, Jason discovered that RadioShack offered computer classes in their back conference room. The 11-year-old was by far the youngest in a class of 30-somethings learning the basics of computer programming. 

“When Jason tutored his fourth grade teacher and many others in computer skills, I had no worries about his future,” says his mother, MJ Bell.

Soon after college Jason began his professional career at Guidance, building highly customized e-commerce websites for retailers, brands and manufacturers. Within a couple years he bought the company and has spent nearly half his life there. Happily married and raising his sons in Hermosa Beach, he also enjoys coaching his boys’ soccer, basketball and football teams. 

Jason vividly remembers Allan Young, the president of Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, standing out from the crowd in his suit. After Jason graduated from college, Allan contacted him for fundraising assistance for the club. “I’m a 40+-year supporter of the club—most recently finishing a two-year term as board chairman,” Jason shares. 

And he’s still playing chess. The game inspired him to focus more deeply on the patterns in life outside the board. His chess mindset has carried over into his personal life, where he checks every opportunity to see if it aligns with his endgame. 

A deep thinker, Jason looks to Winston Churchill as one of his heroes. Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Expanding upon this concept, Jason lives by the philosophy that “success consists of going from one amazing experience to the next with the people you love without loss of enthusiasm.”