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  • Youth Spotlight: Yesenia Briones

    Written by: Denise Kipp, Director of Education Yesenia Briones, a senior at Colorado Mountain College, credits her determination and success to the never-ending support, love, and hope that she has received from her family and the Eagle County community. Yesenia traveled here on foot as a three-year-old from Mexico with her mom, her 5-year-old brother, and her 1-year-old sister. She landed in Texas with family and then continued onward to Eagle County where opportunities were abounding. Doors began to open for Yesenia as her family settled into life in Eagle County. Regardless of the lack of knowledge of the culture or language; all they really needed was each other and a place to live. Yesenia’s father had settled in the U.S a few years prior to her arrival, so the family was finally reunited. Yesenia has the utmost respect and admiration for her parents and the dedication and determination they had to provide a better life for her and her siblings. She often had to remind her mom of the bravery and strength that she so admires, as her mom conveniently forgets the experience with her timid personality. Yesenia reflects on the catalyst for getting her to this point in her life – a point where she feels really good about what she is doing, who she spends time with, and where she is going in life. Yesenia’s brother soccer coach, Bratzo Horruitinerr, was largely a part of that catalyst. Bratzo provided her family with life-changing experiences she will forever be grateful for. With little support to help Yesenia or her siblings navigate the next steps after high school, they knew they needed to do something to succeed beyond high school. How do I fill out a college application as a DACA student? How do I pay for college? How do I fill out financial aid forms? What is next for me after high school if I cannot navigate the steps necessary to be successful? Yesenia observed Bratzo help her brother navigate these steps; all of which seemed overwhelming to Yesenia. Positive choices led to receiving an Early college scholarship and eventually her Associate’s Degree at Colorado Mountain College. This was the boost that gave her so much confidence. It should come as no surprise that Yesenia continued on as a My Future Pathways scholar, with a goal to continue onwards and complete her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As Yesenia reflects on that time period she says, “I think it is important for teenagers to know that there are supports out there in this community if you build relationships, work hard, and persevere.” That is exactly what Yesenia continues to do. My Future Pathways is graced with her presence as a trusted, positive role model supporting the next generation of young people with inclusive, quality programming. “We are all going through a stage that will help us reach adulthood, and we need to support each other during these tough times,” says Yesenia. Yesenia is hopeful that she can be a “mirror” by modeling behaviors that many young Latino girls do not have access to in our community. Mirroring effects will continue to promote strong leadership in the community and create new potential leaders. Her advice to young people – be open to new experiences. Her favorite part about working at My Future Pathways is spending time with the youth. I learn so much from them. It is not a big age gap and so she can understand what they are going through and can help them problem solve.

  • Difference Maker: Glenda Wentworth

    The most special people come into your life, make a lasting impact, and are so humble that they won't see their effect more than just being a kind human. This type of person is Glenda Wentworth. For many years, Glenda has impacted numerous lives, whether children at the ABC school, individuals who rode at their horseback riding business, youth in 4-H that she taught how to sew, or the countless people who participated in one of her many Colorado State University extension programs. Glenda is dedicated to helping others grow in every way possible. Our community has benefited from her contributions in many ways, including teaching financial literacy and food preservation safety, establishing equitable access, bridging our community, teaching vital life skills, and supporting the growth of future leaders in our area. A few of those she has influenced have shared their stories of how she has touched their life. Orlando Ortiz, a recent graduate of the Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI), says, from a distance, Glenda Wentworth may seem small and sweet, but her love and passion for our community is so grand and powerful. I have learned so much from her and FLTI. Her dedication is admirable. She is extremely supportive and is always available when you need her--she is swift to respond as well. Glenda is a living saint. She goes to great lengths to make things happen and to ensure everyone is doing ok. Our FLTI program took place during the pandemic, which had to be paused for a number of months, but Glenda kept in touch with all of us to ensure we, including our families, were doing fine. Everything Glenda does for this community is never a job, this is just who she is as a person, and I am fortunate to know her. She has a beautiful soul, and I feel blessed when I am around her." Franklin Reilly, a local youth who participated in 4-H with Glenda, raves about how she makes the absolute best broccoli and cheddar soup. He continues on about how Glenda made a lasting impact in his life by teaching him independence and valuable skills like sewing. Community partner and Family Leadership Training Institute facilitator Erik Martinez believes "she is the engine behind the FLTI logistics, and we wouldn't be able to provide the level of program we have been over the years without her involvement and leadership. Her attention to detail and forethought are amazing. She is a great listener and very connected with our community partners around the valley. She has made a difference in my life as an FLTI facilitator by always being there when I had questions about the logistics of the session or any questions I may have regarding the program or the status of participants. This is a lot of work to oversee all these moving pieces, but Glenda does it with care and love for our community and the participants. Glenda has a heart of gold!" "She has made a difference across all age ranges, providing classes to preschoolers through adult education”, says Beth Reilly, FLTI Facilitator. Any program Glenda was involved with, we'd sign my boys up for, including sewing camp! They have sewing skills to this day! We've also done "America on the Move" with her, the Dog Walk challenge, the School of Social Work pilot program on addressing racism, nutrition education, financial literacy, and more. Every time I step away from Glenda, I'm a better person!” "All of the things that I've done since 2017 were a direct result of Glenda. FLTI was a class, but Glenda is the heart of it," stated Fernando Almanza, a 2017 FLTI graduate. Around Glenda, there is no shortage of kind words or expressions of gratitude. People like Glenda, who dedicate themselves to providing much-needed resources and education without expecting anything in return, are a blessing to our community. Thank you, Glenda, for all the work you do!

  • Youth Spotlight: Bella Matteo

    By: Mikayla Curtis, Director of Strategic Impact Bella Matteo is a remarkable and inspirational young person. Not only is she gifted in numerous hobbies, sports, and passions, she runs a business with her father and has dedicated her summer to helping other youth connect to opportunities. Bella, an incoming 7th grader at Zealous school in Eagle, appreciates that this community is welcoming and makes her feel at home. Bella’s successes are also a testament to the impact of parental belief and support. Her parents show her they believe in her, and they make sure she has opportunities that fulfill her passions and support her along the way with the equipment, supplies, rides, coaching, and time needed. When I first sat down with Bella, she started talking about her aspirations and talents in mogul skiing and training with her dad and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. However, when I asked about her hobbies and passions, the list took up two pages! She has become a self-taught avid artist as a way to cope during the pandemic. It’s a positive outlet for her and one that she’s passionate about sharing with others. Bella and I met at the He(art) of the Vail Valley Youth art showcase last month in Avon. Not only did she submit numerous drawings, paintings, and pastels to be displayed, she also had the confidence to stand up on stage and share with the crowd what art means to her. She began with an old notebook and mechanical pencils and has since upgraded her supplies and utilized online videos to expand her talent. Of her other hobbies, Bella plays many sports, including rugby, softball, bouldering and rock climbing, and loves hiking, especially doing peak ascents and long trips. She has a goal to join her dad in future years to hike 14 fourteeners over 100 miles. Bella also plays piano, loves chess, coding, has tried jewelry making, and recently joined Valley’s Voice. She is interested in learning about the different issues youth face and enjoys organizing activities and opportunities that get young people out doing something fun. Issues she sees her peers struggle with are cyberbullying and mental health. She believes that by hosting events to create awareness - especially awareness that bullying can happen by accident - and then talking through restorative practices, this will help all parties see the other side and choose different actions in the future. Her goal is to see more respectful relationships in our community; she doesn’t believe everyone has to be everyone’s friend but that they have to treat each other with respect. What makes this community great for Bella is that everyone is mostly friendly with each other, community events bring the town together, and most people know each other and don’t feel like a stranger. According to Bella, our community can only be strengthened by continuing to accept everybody, make them feel welcome and part of a big family. Most importantly, we all can help by noticing people, acknowledging them, and acknowledge what they’re saying. Bella shares that adults in our community can strengthen this by being respectful, preserving a safe community, keeping an eye on the youth to make sure they’re ok, and driving safely and slowly - acknowledging that there are other people on the road and they can get hurt based on our actions. Bella is an incredibly inspirational person, and exhibits strong wisdom, modesty and humility. She believes in herself, works hard to refine her talents, and she does so with a smile on her face. Bella sees the good in this community and has high hopes for herself and her peers. It is apparent that her parents believe in her and there is great trust and love in their relationship. We are proud of Bella, of her drive, accomplishments, and commitment and service to youth opportunities in the community, and we know her family is too. Bella has a lot of interests she excels in and we look forward to seeing the great impact she’ll continue to make in this community.

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  • Previous | Mountain Youth

    Valley's Voice Fashion Shoes to Shine Make this yours. Add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection. Read More Home Less is More Make this yours. Add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection. Read More Health Lemon Detox Make this yours. Add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection. Read More Valley’s Voice is a catalyst for change in Eagle County. It is a one-stop-shop for youth to have a voice, be involved, and make impactful change. Led by a Youth Executive Board, Valley's Voice is comprised of young people ages 10 to 25. Valley's Voice hosts events across the county to collect input on key issues for youth so that projects and progress can be facilitated. ​ It is through Valley's Voice that every youth in the county will have the opportunity to serve, be rewarded, and be recognized for their contribution to improving youth issues. Valley’s Voice spans several past programs including Youth Leaders Council and encompasses CTC youth advisors and other young people in our community. This youth-led, adult-supported program focuses on education and community service projects — giving young people a voice in programs that impact them — anything from helping build a playground to organizing a canned food drive; writing a book to clean up a park. Young people are encouraged to be part of the program and make a change in Eagle County. ​ ​ Contact Cameron Dole, our Valley's Voice Coordinator for more information. ​ Like us on Facebook to stay in touch. Sign Up Here Passion Projects Valley's Voice Youth Recruit and Reward Media Enforcement Youth Executive Board

  • | Mountain Youth

    Samantha Bryant Life Skills Educator Samantha joined Mountain Youth in 2020 as a Life Skills Educator. Samantha and her family picked up and moved across the country from Florida to Colorado in 2019. They wished they had done it years ago as they LOVE the mountains! Samantha is eager to help the youth in our community. Samantha believes that begins with tools and life skills. Our youth is our future and by educating them on how to be healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally it sets them up for a positive journey down the road called, Life. Samantha is also a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and has participated in the ASIST training.

  • | Mountain Youth

    Betsy Van Beek joined Mountain Youth in 2018 to teach the Life Skills program to elementary, middle and high school students. She teaches concepts such as +++ read more Norma Gurrola Community Liaison Norma joined the Mountain Youth team in August of 2021 as our Community Liaison. Norma's parents brought her to Colorado 21 years ago in order to provide her with a better life and education. She has four children and a three-year-old dog named Manchitas. Norma felt compelled to give back to her community after receiving assistance when her family was in need. She worked for Eagle County Neighborhood Navigators, where she felt there was a lot to be done in this neighborhood. She wanted to begin by creating relationships and trust with the residents of the community, and this is how she began advocating for them. A bus route to and from Dotesero was one of the primary projects on which she worked for seven years. This is a significant achievement that demonstrates her commitment to the community.

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