- Difference Maker :Tsvetelina Fuentes
“I hope more people think they are capable and decide to be curious about different ways of accomplishing something. I also hope more people of all ages participate in activities and actions that promote inclusion and diversity.” This encouraging statement comes from Tsvetelina Fuentes, who, for the past 13 years, has created environments in classrooms where students felt cared for, encouraged, and believed in. This type of environment cannot just stay in the classroom, it needs to exist outside of school in our daily lives, which is exactly what Tsvetelina has achieved. After noticing a decline in students' academics when quarantine started, she knew students would fall behind, and something needed to be done. Tsvetelina reached out to Sandy Schroeder, Director of Community Engagement, with the idea for some of Valley’s Voice Youth to tutor students that needed extra help with academics. The idea was presented to several Valley’s Voice high school and college students and they were excited about the opportunity. From the start, Tsvetelina said that it was “so rewarding to work with young people who are so motivated and driven to provide service to the community.” The “Tu Guia” or “your guide” summer tutoring program started with 18 students and nearly doubled by the end of the summer. One reason for its success was that when someone is passionate about something, others pay attention, start following and join in. The passion and dedication from Tsvetelina and tutors like Britney Chavez, Olivia Soukup, Victoria Aragon, Claire Krueger, Joslyn Sanchez, and Alex Lange, inspired other students and teachers to join. Tutors would come to Tsvetelina daily with their new ideas, and she saw how much heart the students were putting into their work. Another reason for the success of Tu Guia was the connection that the tutors were making with the students. These connections help build relationships, which encourages social and emotional learning. Tsvetelina taught the importance of these connections in workshops she led at the start of Tu Guia. When their parents signed them up for this program, these students now had a tutor who believed in them and pushed for their success. This push gave students the tools needed to increase interest in their academics. A Tu Guia student’s math skills have improved drastically from the previous year, receiving praise from a teacher only a week into the school year. Not only have there been significant growth in student's skills, but the tutors have also flourished. This valuable project is teaching diversity, equity, and cultural awareness. During the summer tutoring, the students were not the only ones learning. Tsvetelina knew that social and emotional learning started with support from parents. For seven weeks, Tsvetelina taught parent workshops that focused on self-awareness, self-regulation, relationship skills, problem-solving, social and emotional skills, and decision making. These workshops taught parents how to engage and motivate their children. Tsvetelina's secret for parental education was getting them to act like kids. When kids are silly and creative they get excited about learning, causing them to learn best. Throughout the workshops, parents worked to increase productivity, memory tools, motivation, and gratitude. All of these skills were focused on parenting, but also translated to other areas of their lives, making them better people and professionals. Throughout the seven weeks, the parents were in an environment where they felt heard and valued. The workshop created a place where group discussion was encouraged, gratitude was abundant, and a community was formed. Many parents did not want the sessions to end and even described that the whole experience of Tu Guia as life-changing. Tsvetelina fills up her life with as many opportunities to educate as she can. Aside from being a Multilingual Teacher, helping with Tu Guia, and leading the parent workshops, she is the founder of Fuentes Learning, LLC, and is a brain health coach and speaker. She works with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and U.B.U to bring the community an email campaign called the weekly Pause. The hope is that the Pause can be a ray of sunshine or hope into someone’s life, by allowing them to take a break from the craziness. The weekly email addresses multiple modes of understanding and learning how to improve one's overall wellbeing. This is one of her favorite projects, offered in both English and Spanish. Each week they provide video interviews from community members that relate to each topic. She encourages everyone to subscribe! Community is valuable to all of us. Tsvetelina has been doing incredible things to bring people together, and provide important resources. We applaud her for all of her hard work and dedication to the community. If you are interested in receiving emails from the pause, sign up here. To learn more about Tu Guia email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Youth Spotlight: Kimberly Mayorga
The future of Vail Valley is in the hands of our youth, and with Kimberly Mayorga, the future looks bright. Kim is a dancer, a leader, an activist, and an inspiration to anyone lucky enough to work with her. Growing up in the Valley, Kim has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to her, and has always been incredibly active in the community. Currently, Kim’s involvement is focused on service. For Valley’s Voice, she is a tutor for the Tu Guia Program and a new member of the youth executive board. At EVHS, she is an active member of Student Leadership (StuCo), an executive committee member of their Make a Wish program, and a participant in Mountain Youth’s Diversity Council event (September 2019). While Kim naturally exudes qualities of a leader, she continuously seeks ways to “step up” and give back. Mountain Youth hosted an event on July 12th, The He(art) of Vail Valley’s Youth, where Kim showcased her talent, creativity, and desire to make change. The event featured art created by young people from across Eagle County, and Kim submitted not one, but two pieces. The first was a gorgeously choreographed modern dance representing life during quarantine. The second was a voice recording in which Kim discussed why Black Lives Matter is such an important movement for her—it was a powerful display that demanded attention and brought many to tears. When asked why she created the recording, she responded saying “It was 2 in the morning, and I thought, ‘I am going to do this. I am going to talk about this’” because people need to hear it: “Growing up, the closest I got to racism was it being said to my parents. Growing up being Mexican and having pale skin I never experienced racism personally. I was never told to go back to my country like some of my friends were. I was never excluded from anything like my parents were ... I have privilege and I am aware of it … This is why I fight for Black Lives Matter. Because although it hasn’t affected me personally, I realize that it is affecting millions around me … This is indeed a huge issue that needs to be fixed and it is up to our generation to do something about it. I will fight for BLM, I will fight for immigrants … My voice has been quiet for way too long and it is about time I start using it because I have a lot to say. I promise you I will strive to create change in our valley because change is needed and we are going to create it.” (Excerpt from “A Message from A Pale 16-Year-Old Mexican” by Kim Mayorga) As you can tell, Kim is willing to stand up for what she believes and better her community in the process. Academically, Kim is equally as impressive. She takes as many AP Classes as possible, enrolled in two classes at CMC this summer, and plans on graduating high school with an Associates Degree in addition to her high school diploma. It is rare to find someone who can blend creative and analytical thinking, but Kim thrives in both the world of the arts and in her math and chemistry classes. It may be surprising, but this dancer’s favorite subject is math. As a tutor, Kim loves teaching kids about math—and about how it can be fun. One student who Kim is tutoring was also last year’s EVHS Make a Wish recipient, and he loves Kim’s math lessons so much that he asked her to meet more often than they already were! Kim loves teaching but also appreciates what kids can teach her—even if the lessons are hard. “Little kids are really critical. I improve from that.” More than anything else, Kim loves to dance. She has danced at nearly every studio in the valley, including Vail Valley Dance Academy, Studio 8100 in Avon, and More2Dance in Eagle. Also, Kim did an internship with Celebrate the Beat where she was an assistant to Eagle County CTB director Kris Ashley and was an ambassador for the Vail Dance Festival. Today, she is an independent dancer with a big support system. Plus, she plans to pursue dance as a minor in college. Kim is going into her junior year at EVHS and we are so excited to see what she accomplishes next.
- Anabel Johnson - Youth Spotlight
Anabel Johnson: REVEALED! Mountain Youth absolutely does NOT want Anabel Johnson to be our best kept secret. But, her contributions to date (67 days from her date of hire as a matter of fact) have been kept secret for too long. In fact, those contributions have been so significant, she is selected as this month’s Youth in the Spotlight. Here, we are going to use the official definition of “youth”, which includes individuals up to 25 years of age. She is a 2020 graduate of Boston College who has decided to return to this beloved valley to begin her professional career. One of the biggest criteria for her interview committee, a group of 6 high school-aged youth, was that the Youth Engagement Coordinator be young-ish and relatable. Anabel exudes these qualities and that has led her to 67+ days of amazing success. Here is Anabel, by the numbers. Since her official start date on May 15, 2020, she has accomplished the following: 7 Valley’s Voice Passion Projects. She has been involved in the development, proposal, implementation, and evaluation of 7 projects that are driven by youth and adult supported. Highlighted projects include ProtectOurValley, a COVID response project for 19 to 25 year old; Tu Guia, a student/family academic support system to reduce summer regression caused by COVID; and Screenagers, The Next Chapter, an interactive family engagement opportunity on how to cope with stress and anxiety. 19 + 6 + 12 youth participating in Passion Projects, each helping to develop leadership skills in the youth who direct the projects. That youth leadership ends up affecting the lives of individuals. The 19 youth who are working with English Language Development families are teaching adults how to help their own children, teaching children valuable skills, and their own personal take-away is the pride they feel for being a catalyst for that change. Anabel manages their growth and shares it with others. The 6 is the number of young people who contributed to the development of a new Youth Center in Edwards and the 12 are the youth who serve on the Youth Executive Board of Valley’s Voice. 64 + art submissions for Heart of the Vail Valley that were displayed on June 29th to celebrate how art is therapeutic in times of stress and anxiety. From soup (all of the local artists and adult role models who presented at the event) to nuts (the virtual presence and presentation by all-star Mikaela Shiffrin), Anabel facilitated, coordinated, organized, and implemented the 4-hour experience. How? She craftily delegated youth to leadership roles and had adults support along the way. Folks, not just anyone can do this; Anabel made this happen. 10 + 19 families + children who receive support from a Passion Project called Tu Guia. While the project itself is run by youth, it is Anabel who manages all of the behind the scenes necessities: scheduling meetings, troubleshooting communication, getting tutors paid, monitoring successes and challenges and so much more. These are families whose children already struggle in school as English Language Development students and who had been at risk of falling behind their peers. By teaching parents and supporting children, their academic careers will be greatly improved. $5029.90 into the hands of young people who are working to affect change here in Eagle County. Each youth who participates in the Passion Projects and submits a time sheet is paid a minimum of 15$ per hour. That adds up and it is Anabel who is doing the adding and the tracking. Youth voice has value and making sure that value is rewarded is part of what Anabel brings to her role. 91,160 people reached on FaceBook accounts. The stats say that almost 100K people were engaged at He(Art) of the Vail Valley’s Youth on that one day. The message was all about the use of art to help cope with difficulties in life, a message not only for youth, but for adults, too. Anabel, with her passion for the arts and experience to match, brought this message to people across our county and across the world. Cosmic, my friends. Cosmic. And, Eagle County Community, that is just the beginning of her professional career. As a Battle Mountain student, she served on the Youth Leadership Council with Mountain Youth and helped direct change at that time as a member of the Board of Directors. With her robust experience in theater, organizing events, working with young people, and making community impact, we will all be seeing much, much more of Anabel. Consider her “revealed” now.
- Britny Rose: Difference Maker
Mountain Youth has the motto “Stronger Together”. This holds firm because when supportive individuals surround us, we thrive as a community. This is precisely the goal Britny Rose set out to achieve when she was planning the first-ever Pride Event in Eagle County. Britney Rose has lived in Eagle County for the past three years. She recalls asking a friend why there had never been a Pride event during June in Eagle County. Her friend did not have an answer for her, but had something better. “Why don’t you be the one to do something about it?”, her friend suggested. That lit a fire in Britny. With lots of passion, determination, and community support, she made it happen. In only seven days, she obtained permits and found DJ’s to put together an incredible event. As stressful as the planning might have been, Pride in the Park was important not only for Britny but for so many members of our community. June 27th, 2020 was the first annual Pride in the Park event at Nottingham Lake in Avon. A crowd of 150 people spent the day celebrating love and acceptance by dancing, singing, eating, playing games, and enjoying each others company. The day was full of sunshine, laughter, and new friendships. According to the 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in the past 12 months, 63.4% of high school students were teased because of their sexual orientation. Many youth and adults in the LGBTQ+ community struggle with mental illness and it often worsens when they feel isolated. Britny Rose saw a lack of representation and visibility regarding her LGBTQ+ peers in Eagle County. That is precisely why having events like Pride in the Park is so important. These events foster a community where members of Eagle County can feel a sense of belonging and be surrounded by people who encourage each other to be transparent and free. Strangers continue to express gratitude towards Britny for hosting Pride in the Park where they could celebrate with their friends and other members of the community. A conversation that truly resonated with her was with a 12-year-old transgender youth. This person traveled quite a long distance to be a part of the event at Nottingham Park. The teen didn't have an outlet like this where they lived, so they drove from out west to be a part of this day. Many youth struggle with finding a support system which is exactly why we need more positive LGBTQ+ events in our community. One of Britny's main goals is to make the experience of trangender youth better than her own. Britny has a laundry list of goals for herself and the community. She is working on different events to bring LGBTQ+ community members together. Evenings out on the town, barbeques, ski days, a pride counsel, and a local support hotline are just to name a few. She also has big ideas for next year's Pride Event. Britny imagines a whole weekend with events in Avon, Eagle, and Vail; entire days booked with live music, drag shows, food trucks, and tents with resources from all over Eagle County. Not only does she want Pride in the Park to continue, but other days throughout the year for LGBTQ+ members and allies to come together to mountain bike, hike, and enjoy fun activities together. She wants visitors who come to Eagle County to see how supportive we are. Britny created a Facebook page that anyone is open to join named Eagle County Pride. She considers this page an all-in-one resource to provide information about events in the community, a place to make friends, and also for anyone in need of support. Founding the Pride Event in Eagle County is only the start for Britny; she is ready to do more, and she feels like an essential female member of our community. Britny feels the freedom to be herself, and no one thinks of her other than who she is -- a strong, powerful woman who is making a difference in the community by bringing people together and showing them they can be themselves, too.
- Difference Maker: Zachary Varón
Gandhi once said, “It is easy to stand in a crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.” Little did Zachary Varón know that standing alone at the Vail Bridge would draw a crowd of 500 people to help protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. Zach was unaware of the ripple effect that he would have on Eagle County. Zachary is an artist, a competitive Big Mountain snowboarder, the entrepreneur of Treeline Ltd, and a third-generation Coloradoan. Treeline creates unique urban mountain art, provides modeling and performance opportunities, and uses media content to encourage an artistic community and world. Zachary uses his content and captions to send a message of inclusion and encouragement; this is important because we need to bolster inclusion. Not only does Zachary use his art to motivate others,he also mentors students at his alma mater, Metropolitan State University of Denver. Weekly phone calls with students offer opportunities for him to guide them through school and work, and helps reassure them that they are on the right path. He inspires them make connections and supports them any way he can, using his voice as encouragement in their daily life. Zachary is full of positive energy and only wants to see good in the world. He believes that we are one human family. “We are on this planet together. Why not make it a better place?” said Zachary. Eagle County is a special bubble to Zach and he is always exploring ways to actively engage and improve the community. Zachary did just that when he stood at the Vail bridge on May 30th. It can be hard to know the effect that one can have on others. Zachary’s effect was very visible when 500 people showed up in Vail in solidarity on the Black Lives Matter movement. This was just one day after his supportive partner posted a photo of him at the bridge and shared it on social media. The ripple effect that he started led to peaceful protests in Avon and Eagle. Zachary stated that he was “overwhelmed by the diversity and numbers that showed up to help protest injustices, and was one of the craziest moments of my life.” He inspired protesters to listen to experiences of people of color. Many community members wanted to use their voices; Zach led the charge and gave them that platform. Zachary believes that we are all in this together, and when we all join in unison we are inevitably stronger together, a moto that Mountain Youth strives for. We are proud to have people like Zachary Varón in our community, people that encourage and inspire others to stand up for what they believe in.
- Youth Spotlight: Joslyn Sanchez
Mountain Youth recognizes the importance of having a trusted adult in the life of every child; someone they can look up to as a consistent support and positive role model. While we can celebrate that 70% of local middle and high school students report having an adult to go to for help with a serious problem, that still leaves over 1,000 youth in our community, or 14 school buses packed-full of students, that claim they do not have someone to go to turn to (2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey). Fortunately, Battle Mountain High School graduate and Colorado Mountain College student Joslyn Sanchez is quick to acknowledge individuals who have had a substantial impact on her life, and in turn, is committed to making a difference for others. As songwriter and pastor, Steven Furtick eloquently states, “The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.” These figures have encouraged Joslyn to work hard, give back, and find hope for the future. Joslyn has sought out these voices to provide her with guidance through sunny and cloudy times. Mary Ezequelle, a spiritual clinician and reiki master, introduced Joslyn to meditation and alternative methods of healing. Mary provided emotional support and connected Joslyn to critical resources during dark times of need, and planted seeds for new opportunities for Joslyn once the sun came out. Etta McCarthy, known endearingly as “Grandma Etta” to many, served as a religious guide for Joslyn. A patient and compassionate artist, Etta frequently loaded Joslyn and many neighbors into her van for adventures throughout the state and developed incentive-based bible study programs in the community. “Etta helped me see that there is more to the world. She is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet and helped me realize a sense of hope,” reflects Joslyn. Finally, there is mom. Joslyn describes her mother as the most hard-working person she has ever known, stemming from her rough childhood dropping out of elementary school to sell homemade gelatin on the street corner in order to help provide for herself and nine younger siblings. Joslyn’s mother was a primary provider for her and her siblings, and essentially held the role that two parental figures play in many households. Her mother inspired her work ethic, as well as her healthy ego, instilling in Joslyn that no matter how much she achieves, she is never above anyone else. Joslyn is grateful to have connected with positive role models who have influenced her ambitious mindset. They have taught her good from bad, and helped her learn how to navigate hard times. In turn, she is eager to be a support for others. “You never know what life has in store. Be present, enjoy each day before it becomes a memory, and make a positive mark,” Joslyn advises. She continues, “No matter where I end up, I always want to remember where I come from and how I grew, and to encourage others to do the same.” One of Joslyn’s fondest service memories was a mission trip to Utah with Trinity Church, where she aided young women transitioning out of polygamous lifestyles, one of whom she still visits with to this day. Born and raised in Eagle County, Joslyn is now focuses on giving back to this community. Mountain Youth is honored to welcome Joslyn Sanchez as the newest member of the team, serving as Mountain Youth’s Youth Advisor. Joslyn’s bubbly personality coupled with her passion for connecting and serving as a bridge for the community are incredible assets. Joslyn is jumping right in, helping to lead multiple projects including PowerThru- a hub for activities, advice and connection for young people. This work has enabled Joslyn to reconnect with her artistic self as a dancer and musician. As she excitedly describes, “This is what makes me who I am; the artistic, creative side is a big part of my identity.” Check out Joslyn’s free guitar lessons at powerthru.us, and stay tuned for the July 12th He(art) of the Valley event where Joslyn plans to showcase some of her work alongside other young people including Mikaela Schiffrin, spotlighting arts as a means to overcome stress and challenges. Looking for advice on how to lead an intentional, impactful life like Joslyn? She offers the following words of wisdom: It doesn’t matter where you come from. What matters is what you do with yourself despite your background. A specific moment will never come back. Try to make your interactions and experiences the best of yourself… it’s what you leave behind. It’s ok to ask for help. Michelle Stecher is the executive director of Mountain Youth, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports prevention programs and strategies. Mountain Youth continuously and collaboratively improves the lives of youth in the most powerful ways possible. In addition to positive youth development, Mountain Youth offers various levels of student and family education and training. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.mountainyouth.org
- Difference Maker - Carol Johnson
This month’s difference maker has not only made a difference in the community, but she has made an amazing impact at Mountain Youth. An Eagle County resident since 1989, Carol Johnson has held a variety of marketing and public relations positions for several organizations in the valley. Carol has served tirelessly as the Community Education Manager at Mountain Youth for the past five years. She has brought a wealth of experience, energy and knowledge to Eat Chat Parent and other family education events. She has a passion for helping other, which may be attributed to her education at Boston College, where the Jesuit motto "Men and women for others" stands strong. We know firsthand that Carol continues to embody that mantra of service today. Since day one, Carol has embraced our office with so much energy and enthusiasm for the work that it has encouraged us all to push the envelope on how we’re supporting the community. She is a kind, insightful, spirited, passionate, and positive individual. What has made Carol unique and such an asset to our community is that she listens genuinely and takes input to heart in order to make improvements. She listens with great care and concern- a quality that is hard to come by these days. We have seen what true passion looks like through Carol, and she has inspired us to improve. Anabel Johnson, Mountain Youth’s new Youth Engagement Coordinator, has witnessed Carol's hard work and dedication to this community her whole life. She remembers myriad dinner conversations about how Carol’s work was helping so many, whether that be with their parenting skills or improving their children' mental health, leadership, and pro-social skills. Anabel specifically remember when she won a community award for her incredible development of the Eat Chat Parent program, and how proud she was to be improving the lives of people around her. Carol’s innovation and creativity have enabled substantial growth with specific programs and Mountain Youth as a whole. Carol led the rebranding of Dinner & Dialogue to Eat Chat Parent. She cultivated instrumental partnerships to expand the impact of our family education work, bringing in inspiring and well-respected speakers to educate our community on important and timely issues. Carol has recognized the impact of bringing parents together and offering them support. She follows national best practices and sees to it that her programs and Mountain Youth are at the forefront of what to pay attention to. Carol has embraced participant evaluations to a significant extent and used them as a compass to make program decisions; a true gift. Carol has brought to this community a much-needed space for families to begin to talk about mental health. For that, we are all better at breaking down stigmas and connecting with each other. Eat Chat Parent events are a lifeline for parents; an opportunity to socialize with other parents and realize they are not alone in some of their struggles. Eat Chat Parent provides such a warm, welcoming, safe space for families. Her dedication and energy has created an incredible place where parents can feel supported and empowered. There is no doubt that she will continue to inspire and educate our community as she transitions into her new role as Director of Programs and Events with Speak Up Reach Out. We are very grateful for Carol’s five years of service with Mountain Youth it has been an honor to work with her. Thank you, Carol, for the tremendous impact that you have made and will continue to make in the community. Co-authored by Mountain Youth team members Madison Partridge, Michelle Stecher, Mikayla Curits, Amy Baker, Denise Kipp, Anabel Johnson, Andrea Glass, Fernando Almanza, Sandy Schroeder
- Youth Spotlight - Olivia Soukup
Olivia Soukup moved to Eagle County when she was a sophomore in high school and began attending Vail Christian High School. She is currently a student at the University of Denver studying Psychology and Socio-Legal Studies. You can feel Olivia’s positive energy and enthusiasm that she brings to her daily life from the moment you meet her. She has the passion, drive, and determination to help others around her. Olivia’s priority is helping children. Herding young campers at Camp Cordy and engaging children as a nanny have kept Olivia involved with the local landscape. Traveling abroad, Olivia helped teach English in Thailand and served at an orphanage in Mexico. With goals of becoming a child psychologist, she believes that future generations are being shaped now. We have a unique opportunity to help mold their future, or won’t have the incredible community we do now. Social media is so prevalent in today’s society and a lot of unfortunate things can come from it, yet offering youth the tools to develop coping skills, friendships, and self-confidence is a top priority for Olivia. She wants to be able to help give them the resources they need to succeed. Olivia created a mentoring program at Vail Christian to provide positive support to freshmen and sophomores. She helped to develop the program where juniors and seniors were matched with younger students to help foster positive relationships and guide on a positive path. It can be easier to get through struggles when you have the support of someone who has been through it themselves. Olivia is an avid runner, loves hiking, skiing, and driving around to watch sunsets – she takes every opportunity she can be to be in the mountains. She believes that mountains provide a beautiful reflection of ourselves. These activities bring her joy while keeping her mental health in check. She is determined to help others with their mental health. That is why Olivia reached out to Sandy Schroder, Mountain Youth’s Director of Community Engagement back in February seeking an internship opportunity. Olivia is one of the leaders of PowerThru, a group created in the midst of COVID-19 for students and adults alike who are struggling with school and life during the quarantine. PowerThru provides mental health tips, information on jobs and volunteer opportunities, inspiration for myriad activities while you are quarantined, and even fun competitions. Their mission is to help create connections during COVID. Olivia encourages others to follow PowerThruEagleCounty because, “People are struggling with mental health during isolation and it can be hard to form connections at home. This platform provides connections and interaction when it seems abnormal.” PowerThru initiatives have included book reviews, live yoga sessions, work out challenges, and a Q & A with an Eagle Valley Behavioral Health therapist. These opportunities help the group reach their goal of connecting people with one another and reassuring people that they are not alone. Olivia intended to help lead PowerThru to support others, not realizing the significant impact it would have on her. She loves that PowerThru provides resources that can be hard for people to uncover on their own. PowerThru brings the community together in a time of separation. PowerThru aims to continue providing resources during our recovery from this epidemic. Olivia loves this valley because of the people that create such an amazing community. She feels that Eagle County offers and environment surrounded by so many people that care for each other. That is why she wants to make a difference, even if it is in the slightest way. Make sure that you follow PowerTHru on Instagram @PowerThruEagleCounty and check out their blog at https://powerthruus.blogspot.com/?m=1.
- Difference Maker: Edgar Chairez
Humble is the first word that comes to mind when describing Edgar Chairez. He is very modest about being nominated as a "difference maker". In our opinion, his humility is one of the best things about him. Edgar does not realize the deep impact he can and does have on the community. He does not believe he is doing anything beyond just being a good person, which comes naturally to Edgar. “What motivates me is trying to make everyone around me smile,” said Edgar. His passion is to help others and make a difference in this community. Edgar encourages others to do the same, yet realizes we all have imperfections. “We will all make mistakes. When you have a good heart, you will work on it, fix it, keep moving, and keep doing the right thing. Edgar continues to do the right thing for himself and the community that he loves. Edgar is currently a bartender at Boneyard making the best margaritas in Eagle County. In his free time, he volunteers at the Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance (LEIA) facilitated by Catholic Charities. The agency’s goal is to share resources and information, and to build trust and collaboration with the immigrant community. Edgar jumps at any opportunity to support LEIA, including helping to plan the coat drive and rodeo. When Sandy Schroder, a regular at Boneyard (and one of Edgar's favorite customers) first met Edgar, she saw the potential in him and knew he would be an excellent asset for the Mountain Youth We Hear U program, a prevention and intervention program aimed to build skills amongst families with middle school-aged children. When invited to be a We Hear U instructor, Edgar instantly signed on to provide direct support to local children and families. Edgar is committed to helping Spanish-speaking families because he believes someone needs to be there for them. His former job at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, Texas gave him the skills he needed to lead with empathy, compassion, and understanding. Edgar’s pleasant demeanor makes him approachable and easy to work with. He is outstanding at identifying problems, specifically with families, and prides himself on being able to achieve the common goal of communication to improve family life. As a We Hear U instructor, he brings a level of cultural relevancy that the program needs and can connect with vulnerable families with ease. Edgar also leads the Aprendiendo Juntos WhatsApp Group, which is a sister program to Eat Chat Parent organized by Mountain Youth. Aprendiendo Juntos, which currently has 104 group members, is an online community of neighbors who care about their families and want to ensure that resources are available for those in need. This group also shares daily behavioral health tips, tools they can use in their homes, and educational opportunities via group discussions. Edgar is excited about the current success of the group but mentioned that as long as he can help one person, it is all worth it. When given the opportunity to help someone, Edgar feels compelled to thank them for the opportunity because they have helped him grow as a person. Eagle County is a better place because of people like Edgar Chairez. We are very fortunate to have him as a part of the Mountain Youth team. Humilde es la primera palabra que viene a la mente al describir a Edgar Chairez. Fue muy modesto acerca de ser nominado como "personas que hacen la diferencia". En nuestra opinión, su humildad es una de sus mejores virtudes. Edgar no se da cuenta del profundo impacto que puede tener y tiene en la comunidad. No cree que esté haciendo nada más que ser una buena persona, lo cual es algo natural para Edgar. "Lo que me motiva es tratar de hacer sonreír a todos los que me rodean", dijo Edgar. Su pasión es ayudar a otros y hacer la diferencia en esta comunidad. Edgar anima a otros a hacer lo mismo, pero se da cuenta de que todos tenemos imperfecciones. “Todos cometemos errores, pero si tienes un buen corazón, trabajarás en ello, lo arreglarás, avanzarás y seguirás haciendo lo correcto. Edgar continúa haciendo lo correcto para sí mismo y para la comunidad que ama. Edgar es actualmente barman en Boneyard haciendo las mejores margaritas en el condado de Eagle. En su tiempo libre, se ofrece como voluntario en la Alianza de Inmigrantes de la Aplicación de la Ley (LEIA) facilitada por Caridades Católicas. El objetivo de la agencia es compartir recursos e información, y generar confianza y colaboración con la comunidad inmigrante. Edgar aprovecha cualquier oportunidad para apoyar a LEIA. Cuando Sandy Schroder, cliente regular en Boneyard (y uno de los clientes favoritos de Edgar) conoció a Edgar por primera vez, ella vio el potencial en él y supo que sería un excelente acierto para el programa Mountain Youth We Hear U, un programa de prevención e intervención destinado a desarrollar habilidades entre familias con niños en edad escolar media. Cuando se le invitó a ser un instructor de We Hear U, Edgar se inscribió instantáneamente para brindar apoyo directo a los niños y las familias locales. Edgar se compromete a ayudar a las familias de habla hispana porque cree que alguien necesita estar ahí para ayudarlos. Su antiguo trabajo en el Consulado de México en Dallas, Texas, le dio las habilidades que necesitaba para liderar con empatía, compasión y comprensión. El comportamiento agradable de Edgar lo hace accesible y fácil de trabajar. Es sobresaliente en la identificación de problemas, específicamente con las familias, y se enorgullece de poder lograr el objetivo común de la comunicación para mejorar la vida familiar. Como instructor de We Hear U, aporta un nivel de relevancia cultural que el programa necesita y puede conectarse con familias vulnerables con facilidad. Edgar también dirige el grupo Aprendiendo Juntos WhatsApp, que es un programa hermano de Eat Chat Parent organizado por Mountain Youth. Aprendiendo Juntos, que actualmente cuenta con 104 miembros del grupo, es una comunidad en línea de vecinos que se preocupan por sus familias y quieren asegurarse de que los recursos estén disponibles para los necesitados. Este grupo también comparte consejos diarios de salud conductual, herramientas que pueden usar en sus hogares y oportunidades educativas a través de discusiones grupales. Edgar está entusiasmado con el éxito actual del grupo, pero mencionó que mientras pueda ayudar a una sola persona, todo vale la pena. Cuando se le da la oportunidad de ayudar a alguien, Edgar se siente obligado a agradecerle la oportunidad porque lo han ayudado a crecer como persona. El condado de Eagle es un lugar mejor debido a personas como Edgar Chairez. Somos muy afortunados de tenerlo como parte del equipo de Mountain Youth.
- COVID-19 Compassion vs. COVID-19 Compliance
Our youth are making major sacrifices during our surreal stay-at-home-even-if-you-don’t-want-to existence. Rites of passage they have been looking forward to for years are cancelled: proms, spring sports, graduations, first dates. With loving parental support, the majority of local youth are adhering to guidelines, social distancing, and contributing to our County’s decrease in COVID-19 statistics. Sadly, not all youth have this luxury; some need to earn a regular paycheck, the result of extreme extenuating circumstances like financial aid ineligibilities and inequalities that exist in our nation’s social structure. For the first time ever, we are featuring youth leaders who will be anonymous. They are male and female freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school. At a time when looking inward is omnipresent, these youth are looking outward: stocking shelves, filling bags, returning carts. They are combining bravery and resiliency in ways that many of their peers will never experience. These high school youth have committed to full-time jobs to put food on the table and help pay their family’s monthly bills. When they started their school year, this was not in their plan. Their parents had steady jobs in our hospitality industry, and they had stability. Then came the Coronavirus and local unemployment reached new heights. Their parents were suddenly unable to provide for them. Their new normal is full time employment. Facing the risk of a daily grocery store job during a pandemic as opposed to accessing the hot spot to log onto their school-loaned Chromebook is their reality. Swimming In The Same Water But With A Different Boat There are many layers of compassion during this crisis, but for me, learning of this situation hit particularly hard. I first heard about these youth during my weekly Eagle County School District Wellness Family Engagement Committee Zoom meetings. “There is an issue with our undocumented families; let’s face it, we have heads of households that are not documented at all. They are good, hard working people, trying to raise their families in this expensive, beautiful resort and suddenly they don't have jobs. Due to this, we have a few students at Battle Mountain High School jumping in to support their parents or siblings. I am concerned because I know that we are swimming in the same water but with a different boat. This relief is not for all of us and we must recognize that,” said Beatriz Bustamonte, Director of Hispanic Community Engagement at Battle Mountain High School and School Health Assistant. The next time you are at the grocery store and you see what appears to be a high school student working, please give them a smile, a nod, a thank you - something to let them know they are special. With the weight of the world on their shoulders, their sacrifice deserves compassion from us all. Recognize their strength, their courage, their commitment to family, their ability to do what it takes to survive. Real leadership takes many different forms. During COVID-19 the bravest leadership looks outward amongst a world of inequality. Carol Johnson is Mountain Youth’s Community Engagement Manager and Facilitator of Eat Chat Parent.