Sonoma


CARLOS ESTRADA

VOICES Sonoma Youth Staff

My name is Carlos Estrada and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was a Courtesy Clerk at Safeway.

The most valuable life lesson that I have learned so far is that anything is possible. My definition of happiness is being at peace with the constant chaos and changes that walk in and out of our lives.
If I had unlimited funding I would provide creative art and music programs for young people, courses to educate people on their rights as citizens, Housing First programs and locations, and emergency shelters for homeless and at-risk youth.

You can reach me at carlos@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

SUNNY HARTWELL

VOICES Sonoma Youth Staff

My name is Sunny Hartwell and I am a Youth Advocate for both VOICES Sonoma and LGBTQ Connection. My first job was as a Barista at a coffee shop called Off The Tracks Cafe.

The biggest life lesson I have learned is in order to grow you must forgive yourself. My definition of “happiness “is having my basic needs met; the rest is extra.

If I had unlimited funds I would solve the housing crisis in Sonoma County by first creating wellness centered housing for all people.

You can reach me at sunshine@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

TAYLOR RUFFIN

VOICES Sonoma Youth Staff

My name is Taylor Ruffin and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was at a local shoe business in Oakland when I was 16 years old.

The most valuable life lesson that I have learned so far is that, “you may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated”. My definition of “happiness” is good food that I do not have to cook!

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a program for people to go to college without having to pay for it.

You can reach me at taylor@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

JOSEPH FINNEGAN

VOICES Sonoma Youth Staff

My name is Joseph Finnegan and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was as a cook at KFC next door to my group home.

The most valuable life lesson that I have learned so far is that you only lose if you do not learn from it.  My definition of “happiness” is knowing yourself.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create Meals on Wheels for the homeless and a housing unit for military veterans.

You can reach me at joe@voicesyouthcenter.org or at 707-228-7766.

 

JESSICA FONSECA

VOICES Sonoma Youth Engagement Coordinator

My name is Jessica Fonseca and I am the Youth Engagement Coordinator at VOICES Sonoma.  My first job was at Sizzler. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that life goes on. Don’t bother sweating the small stuff; it is all small stuff anyways!  My definition of “happiness” is smiling so much it hurts, laughing so much you cry, and being able to truly be yourself in all of your awkwardness. 

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a center that served as housing for young people who are dual diagnosed, dealing with both addiction issues as well as mental health issues. This center would provide 12 step meetings, support groups, mental health staff and doctors on hand. All of the staff would have personal experience in these fields to better serve those requiring services. 

You can reach me at jessicaf@voicesyouthcenter.org

 
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AMBER NAKASH

VOICES Sonoma ILP Manager

My name is Amber Nakash and I am the Independent Living Program (ILP) Manager at VOICES Sonoma.  My first job was a babysitter.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that nothing comes without hard work. My definition of “happiness” is laughing with friends and family, boot camp, snuggling with my dogs, pizza, shopping, going out to a nice dinner with good people, playing games and sleeping.  

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a therapeutic farm with a variety of animals, with an emphasis on donkeys. The farm would also offer free work out classes for staff and the youth.  

You can reach me at ambern@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Heather johnson

VOICES Sonoma Youth Leadership Coach

My name is Heather Johnson and I am the Youth Leadership Coach at VOICES Sonoma, My first job was working with preschoolers.  Can sardines, play dough and fingerpaint contribute to a sense of safety, self efficacy and trust?  You bet.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is two-fold.  First, no matter how bleak things are, no matter what your external circumstances or internal demons, never ever, ever, ever give up.  Second, you don’t have to do it alone.  We weren’t meant to do it alone.  My definition of happiness is a warm kitten.  Also, meaningful work and deep friendships, but mostly the kitten thing.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a bigger and better VOICES.  I imagine a childcare center and an auto shop where youth can learn job skills while they repair donated cars, which will be sold to other youth at a low cost.  A peer-run center with all the services VOICES has now, with affordable housing on the top floor.

I believe that by working together we can create structures to scaffold youth who don’t have traditional systems of support, to give everyone the opportunity to grow into healthy adulthood.  

You can reach me at heather@voicesyouthcenter.org

 
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GENE CALHOUN

VOICES Sonoma ILP Coach

My name is Gene Calhoun and I am the Independent Living Program (ILP) Coordinator at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was a paperboy for the Berkeley Gazette.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that there will ALWAYS be another lesson! My definition of “happiness” is remembering that I have a choice whether to be happy or not.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create frameworks for alliance building, where people would have the opportunity to get to know people who are not part of “their” group. I would create summer camps and workshops for people of all ages to unlearn institutional and internalized oppression and to create spaces for conversations designed to bring people together. 

You can reach me at gene@voicesyouthcenter.org

 

Greyson Gunheim

VOICES Sonoma ILP Coach

My name is Greyson Gunheim and I am the My Life Coordinator at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was at a Christmas tree farm, when I was a youngster.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that,  “if nothing changes… then nothing changes!” My definition of “happiness” is finding your Paradise in any and all situations.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create more youth housing and increase it’s availability.

You can reach me at greyson@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

AMARETTE FICCO

VOICES Health Navigator

My name is Amarette Ficco and I am the Health & Wellness Program Manager for VOICES Napa and Sonoma.  My first job was with the family business, North Coast Ice Company.  I helped bag ice and would go on deliveries with my dad.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is being taught me what unconditional love is by having my son. This encourages me to strive for my best everyday.  My definition of “happiness” is feeling healthy and well in all aspects mind, body, and spirit.

 If I had unlimited funding, I would create a wellness center that connects young people to everything that they need to feel healthy and well. I am lucky enough to be working on this right now!

You can reach me at amarette@voicesyouthcenter.org

 
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TJ MCKILLOP

VOICES Sonoma Youth Education Navigator

My name is TJ McKillop and I am the Education Navigator at VOICES Sonoma.  My first job was at the age of fourteen.  I spent a summer digging trenches as part of the landscaping team at an apartment complex in Sacramento. I haven’t been as exhausted after a workday since that summer.

 Every day I am confronted by my limitations, by the myriad ways in which I need the help of others. Yet I also find ways to contribute, ways in which I, too, am needed. All in all, the most valuable life lesson I have learned and continue to learn day-by-day is that people need people. My grandmother always told me that happiness is having enough resources to meet my needs, with enough left over to share with others. My definition of happiness is when I believe that we all belong to each other. The difficult part is remembering.

If I had unlimited funding, I would love to create a program similar to Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. A place where young adults might be empowered and equipped to explore vocation, as well as work on their own inner lives at the same time.

You can reach me at tj@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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ANA LUGO

VOICES Special Projects

My name is Ana Lugo and I am in charge of Special Projects for VOICES.  My first internship was at a small marketing company. It was such a different world; one of my first tasks was to stuff envelopes, and I remember it being the most exciting thing ever. I almost got fired for not knowing how to answer phones so my boss had me practice how to answer phones for a whole day. It was a great experience!

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is to never give up. My definition of “happiness” is that moment when your heart just feels full of joy.

In high school, I remember going to the park with one of my classes to learn about the different kinds of trees, and spending the night camping out at the beach so we could learn about the ocean. These are the experiences that had a major influence in my learning, curiosity, imagination, and ultimately in my future. If I had unlimited funding, I would develop a program that would afford every student access to quality education that is innovative and engaging.

You can reach me at ana@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

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PABLO TOSCANO

VOICES Napa Youth Staff

My name is Pablo Toscano and I am a Youth Staff at VOICES Napa. This is my first job!
The most valuable lesson that I have learned in my whole 16 years of life is that family is the most important, friends will come and go, but family is forever.

My definition of “happiness” is riding my scooter. If I had unlimited funding, I would create a program to help young scooter riders progress and become the best they can be.

You can reach me at pablo@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

Susan Ortiz

VOICES Napa Youth Staff

My name is Susan Ortiz and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa.  My first job was at Mountain Mike's Pizza in Santa Rosa.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that I cannot control certain situations, but yet I have to let it be. My definition of happiness is having self-love and love for others; living life successfully but positively.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a service that sheltered all homeless persons. I would also create a program that assisted all illegal immigrants with becoming permanent residents of the United States.

You can reach me at susan@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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CECY TORRES

VOICES Napa Youth Staff

My name is Cecy Torres and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa. My first job was a cashier at Burger King.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that knowledge is key and education is everything! The more you know, the more you can help others.

My definition of “happiness” is to love and to be loved, to be content with your life and who you are. 

If I had unlimited funding I would develop a program to help undocumented Latino youth and their families. I would help provide bilingual assistance with employment, education, and legal services. This program would seek to improve their lives by removing any barriers that would diminish quality of life. 

You can reach me at cecilia@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

DELYCIA GARCIA

VOICES Napa Youth Staff

My name is Delycia Garcia and I am an Independent Living Program (ILP) Youth Staff.  My first job was a Healthy Behaviors Tutor for AmeriCorps.

The most valuable life lesson I’ve learned is to never give up and to keep going for what you want. My definition of happiness is being okay with who you are and what you are doing, as well as being surrounded by people who love you and whom you love. 

If I had unlimited funding, I would develop a program that provides youth full-scope legal help for no cost. 

You can reach me at delycia@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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ANGEL MACKELVIE

VOICES Napa Site Coordinator

My name is Angel Mackelvie and I am the Site Coordinator at VOICES Napa. My first job was a camp counselor.

 The most valuable life lesson that I have learned is that confidence is key. It is always important to be confident in yourself and the work you do. My definition of “happiness” is loving and enjoying where you are at and what you are doing.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a program that would provide support to youth with figuring out their schooling and provide them the financial means, mental support, housing options and counseling that is needed to achieve success in school. The program would provide all the supplies that students need while helping each youth make school a priority and helping them overcome any barrier that could impede success whether it is financial, employment concerns, classes, mental health, physical health or housing.

You can reach me at angel@voicesyouthcenter.org

 

JESSICA HULIN

VOICES Napa Program Director

My name is Jessica Hulin and I am the Program Director of VOICES.  My first job was at Cinedome in Napa, which was recently torn down.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that loving yourself first is integral to living a life that is honorable and valuable. The other lesson that I most recently discovered and continue to work on internalizing is that making mistakes is okay!  My definition of happiness is looking in the mirror and being content with who you see-not on the outside-but on the inside.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a program that matches every vulnerable human with an animal to raise and create programming to teach and foster empathy and responsibility. All of the animals needs would be paid for and every human would be granted the space needed for the care and nurturance of the animal.  By caring for the animal, every human could know what it is like to feel unconditional love and acceptance. 

You can reach me at jessicah@voicesyouthcenter.org or 707-337-0427. 

 
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TARA LEDEZMA

VOICES Napa ILP Manager

My name is Tara Ledezma and I am the Independent Living Program (ILP) Program Manager. My first job was a City of Napa Recreation Leader at Mcpherson Elementary School.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is to never give up! There will always be bumps in the road but you have to pick yourself up and move on. My definition of “happiness” is to be loved and to spread love and joy.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create housing opportunities and legal services for all young people that needed guidance.

You can reach me at tara@voicesyouthcenter.org or 707-363-9487.

 
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ANDRES CANTERA

VOICES Napa ILP Case Manager

My name is Andres Cantera and I am the Independent Living Program (ILP) Case Manager. My first job was selling spices in the Oxbow Market at Whole Spice shop through the WIOA program.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is to celebrate every accomplishment, because we never know when we will have the next one. My definition of happiness is being overall satisfied and happy with your everyday actions and course of life.

If I had unlimited funding I would give the money to fund an even bigger VOICES program that also included housing for youth and extend services, such as AB12, to all youth that could benefit from the services.

You can reach me at andres@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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MATTHEW MOON-BAILEY

VOICES Napa Ed/Employment Coordinator

My name is Matthew Moon-Bailey and I am the Explorations Coordinator at VOICES Napa.  My first job was a Yard Duty at Snow Elementary School. 

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that volume doesn’t mean it’s true! As a father my definition of “happiness” is watching my daughter grow into a happy and healthy young woman. As a community member, it is knowing that my friends and others are willing to step up to help others. For myself, it is knowing that my family and friends love me.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create Recreation, Industrial Arts, Music & Arts programs that would complement our education systems.

You can reach me at matt@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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SYDNIE SOUZA

VOICES Napa Ed/Employment Case Manager

My name is Sydnie Souza and I am the Explorations Case Manager at VOICES Napa.  My first job was being a waitress at Locos Tex Mex Grill.

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that “this too shall pass.” My definition of “happiness” is having a sense of fulfillment and purpose in my personal and professional life.

If I had unlimited funds, I would create housing opportunities for all people regardless of mental health, physical health, economic and family status.

You can reach me at sydnie@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

MICHELLE LEWIS

VOICES Napa WIOA Crew Leader

My name is Michelle (Shelley) Lewis and I am the Explorations Seasonal Work Crew Leader at VOICES Napa.  My first job was working at Skyhawks Summer Sport Camps.  It was a sport-skills camp for ages 4-7.  We played basketball, soccer and t-ball all day!  I still have many memorable experiences from that time of my life!

The most valuable life lesson that I have learned so far is that you can do many things on your own but having a community of people to support you will elevate and expedite any goals you have.  Life is pretty narrow on your own. My definition of “happiness” is living with purpose and intention.  Happiness is not the end goal, but it will happen when we grow as individuals and are in service to others.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a residential summer camp that is sports, mindset & nutrition based.  I have always dreamed about this!

You can reach me at michelle@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Amber Twitchell

OTM Associate Director/ VOICES Director

My name is Amber Twitchell and I am the Associate Director of On The Move and VOICES Director. My first job was counting electrical tubing inch by inch all day at an electric supply warehouse. I was fired for having too much potential – I apologize to the guy that I got mad at when he told me. You were right.

The most valuable life lesson that I have learned is that the moment you feel you have to prove your worth to someone is the same moment that you should absolutely walk away. The only one that needs to believe you are worthy is you.

I have found happiness at VOICES – being surrounded by people that love me for who I am, despite my flaws. Knowing with certainty that when I need someone to help me, there will be committed and passionate people ready to support me with no judgment.

If I had unlimited funding, I would support all of my staff in building the programs that they dream about (similar to what I already get to do at VOICES – I am so lucky)! 

You can reach me at amber@onthemovebayarea.org or 707-570-7769.