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Difference Maker: Sandy Schroeder

She’s inexhaustible. She is relentlessly driven but takes the time to really listen. She has specific goals but is flexible to adapt. She is quick to say yes but puts thought into every project. And projects… she takes on projects with enthusiasm and expertise. Sandy Schroeder is an amazing asset not only to the Mountain Youth team but to the community as a whole.

Sandy exudes compassion and empathy. Combine that with her drive to help make change and her passion to help young people and she’s found her work home. She’s seen young people who didn’t have guidance and wants to be that someone who provides a nonjudgemental ear. Sandy joined the Mountain Youth team almost two years ago as Communities That Care coordinator. Soon she took on Youth Master Plan and Valley’s Voice. She is the catalyst behind changing Youth Leadership Council into Valley’s Voice, which is a project-based program that is youth led and adult supported.

Sandy also teaches Maturation classes with Red Ribbon Project, Life Skills classes and We Hear U with Mountain Youth, all separate from her youth leadership role. “She’s a parent-child whisperer in my observation,” shares Carol Johnson, Mountain Youth community education manager, who oversees the We Hear U program and is thrilled to have a compassionate coworker help deliver the program.

When she’s not working with Mountain Youth, she’s advocating, volunteering and creating. She’s the educational consultant/advocate for Valley Life for All, a nonprofit that speaks for inclusion. She tires of hearing how special her son is. Henry has Down syndrome but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have high expectations for him—and for the community around him. It’s not that Henry’s NOT special… it’s the fact that all young people are special and her goal is to make sure they know it.

“The essential goal being to discover we have more in common than we don’t. Those with different abilities are just as talented and able to contribute to their community as others,” Sandy says. Don’t look at her, or him, with pity. Don’t think he can do less.

When we mentioned it might be fun to participate in Project Funway, Sandy immediately started finding patterns, picturing various iterations of hand-crafted outfits. She envisioned the fabric, led the team to create, got busy laying out the pieces… two months later voila, two amazing outfits ready to rock the runway. Sure, she made the outfits but she also helped the team come together for yet another youth-focused event.

Sandy came to Mountain Youth with years of experience and a slew of awards. Of course, she won’t talk about them, really, but if you ask enough times she will mention oh a number of awards she was nominated for. Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, an award for excellence in education… and those are the only ones she will admit.

It’s not about the awards or accolades for Sandy. Her calling and her career are about finding her calling, following her passion had creating positive development for young people.

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