Sonoma


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Salome Felious

VOICES Sonoma Youth Intern

Hi, my name is Salomé and I’m a Youth Intern at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was repairing computers and installing software for my stepdad’s business. One of the most valuable life lessons I've learned so far is the power of choosing to be guided by love instead of fear. I find happiness in being able to be completely accepting of myself and staying in the present moment. If I had unlimited funding, I would open a sanctuary in nature to offer holistic therapy to individuals processing severe emotional trauma to help them heal and connect back to their true selves.

You can reach me at salome@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Yanin Torres

VOICES Sonoma Youth Intern

My first job was being a youth lead for T-N-T (Teens and Terry) at the age of 13. We helped senior citizens with everyday tasks such as yard work, house work, grocery shopping, and so on. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that being patient with other—but especially oneself—is the key to success. My definition to happiness consists of three main elements; loving family (chosen or blood), safe place to call home, and basic life needs—such as food.

If I had unlimited funding, I would create a center for empowering women, looking to empower other women. The center will be named Frida's Family Room. The mission of the center will be to provide resources for those who seek a place where they will feel safe. Welcoming mom's with their children, daughters who no longer have a relationship with their mothers and want a mother like figure through our Mama program, those who have no sisters and seek one, and more!

You can reach me at yanin@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Aja Houle

VOICES Sonoma Education Coordinator

My name is Aja Houle. I am the Education Coordinator for VOICES Sonoma. My first job was at Santa Rosa Junior College in the CalWORKs Department as a Mentor. In this role I served an amazing student population, all of whom were parenting children at home under the age of 18, whilst being students in college themselves. What I loved most about that position was watching my students succeed and conquer their educational and personal goals, with their children by their sides.

My definition of “happiness” is being with my children, partner, family, and friends. Enjoying life daily and being at peace with what happens, regardless of any hiccups, is so valuable. To me, happiness comes from the soul, and is a combination of love and tranquility. 

If funding was unlimited at VOICES, I would want to create a scholarship fund for all youth seeking higher education. I see higher education as an opportunity to fulfill one’s self in many ways, both personally, and educationally. Supporting this journey for every individual is exceptionally important to me.

 
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Kitara McCray

VOICES Sonoma Youth Intern

Hello my name is Kitara and I am a Youth Intern at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was providing services like removing invasive plant species and beach cleanup with the Youth Ecology Corps. I would have to say that the most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that although you may not be able to change the way people treat you in life, you have the power to change the way it impacts you emotionally. 

My idea of happiness is the sense of adventure that comes when trying something new like food, exploring nature, or learning a new skill. If I had unlimited funding I would create a program that provides opportunities such as summer camps, sports, playing an instrument, traveling, etc. to impoverished children in urban communities.

You can reach me at kitara@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Kerri Newlin

VOICES Sonoma Youth Advocate

Hello, My name is Kerri Newlin and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was a yogurt shop down the street from my house after I graduated High School. The most valuable life lesson that I learned is that the only opinions that matter are from people who matter to you, and all the others are just noise. With unlimited funding I would go to college to get a degree, find my passion and purpose for life. My definition of Happiness is complex due to the difficult relationship I have with happiness. That doesn't mean I lack in happy feeling, I just have a challenging time recognizing and remembering times of joy and positivity. I am working on becoming more perceptive of those moments and being present for them.

You can reach me at kerri@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Kayla Dias

VOICES Sonoma Peer Mentor for the Alchemy Project

My name is Kayla Dias and I am a Peer Mento for the Alchemy Project at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was at McDonalds in Cloverdale. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far has been to take risks and push myself. Even if it is uncomfortable and scary at first, I have done the most personal growth stepping out of my comfort zone.

My definition of happiness is the overwhelming feeling of amazement and joy I feel when I am surrounded by things I love like family, mountains/nature, cats/dogs. Something that brings you so much love and joy that you cant help but stop and feel it in your soul. If I had unlimited funding,  I would also want to open a Recovery center for all  people to create and explore their own journey through recovery from an array of different things. It would include programs that provide quality/accessible mental health services to people. Focusing on mindfulness, peer-to-peer support and client's needs. The center would also provide housing that would help decrease the number of people that are currently homeless and provide them with sustainable job opportunities. It would also include a program to rehabilitate animals and provide healing to the clients seeking services.

You can reach me at kayla@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Elke Sandoval

VOICES Sonoma Site Coordinator

My name is Elke Sandoval and I am the Site Coordinator at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was at my campus bookstore. Go beach! The most valuable life lesson that I have learned so far is to go through life with “it will work out.” That does not mean everything will happen the way I want it to, but regardless of what happens I will find a way to get through it. My definition of happiness is a warm puppy.

If I had unlimited funding I would like to bring various resource centers to South Central LA from Compton all the way to skid row. Several centers where they offer resources like VOICES but it would include services on immigration, soon to be and already young parents, all forms of violence (sexual assault, abuse, domestic, gang), and a program to help formerly gang involved folks get out of the system as well as previously incarcerated people.

You can reach me at elke@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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AMBER NAKASH

VOICES Sonoma Director of Youth Services

My name is Amber Nakash and I am the Director of Youth Services 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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GENE CALHOUN

VOICES Sonoma Alchemy Mental Health Project Youth Worker

My name is Gene Calhoun and I am an Alchemy Mental Health Project Youth Worker 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 Program Manager

My name is Greyson Gunheim and I am the ILP Program Manager 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.

 
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Stephanie Olsen

VOICES Sonoma MyLife Coordinator

My name is Stephanie Olsen and I am the MyLife Coordinator at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was as a sales associate at a Claire’s Boutique in my local mall when I was 16.  

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is to forgive what hurt you but never forget what it taught you.

My definition of happiness is being around those whom I love and who love me.

If funding was not an issue, I would create a program that served meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)  to the homeless from a fleet of food trucks that would drive around cities and give away food to anyone who was in need.

You can reach me at stephanie@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 

AMARETTE FICCO

VOICES Health & Wellness Program Director

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

The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is unconditional love. My son teaches me this everyday and encourages me to strive for my best. 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 provides access to everything a person needs to feel healthy and well, and it would have a miniature therapy horse onsite. I am lucky enough to be working towards this right now!

You can reach me at amarette@voicesyouthcenter.org

 

Kelsey Bjugstad

VOICES Sonoma Education Navigator

My name is Kelsey Bjugstad and I am the Education Navigator at VOICES Sonoma. My first job was babysitting. The most life lesson is to always be curious, learning, asking questions, and loving.

My definition of "happiness" is being around those I love and who love me.

I'd love to have an art therapy center where foster youth and community members can come create anything they'd like for free. VOICES Youth Center is a great next option though.

You can reach me at kelsey@voicesyouthcenter.org or at 707-583-1668. 

 
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TJ MCKILLOP

VOICES Sonoma Alchemy Mental Health Project Manager

My name is TJ McKillop and I am the Alchemy Mental Health Project Manager 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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Tyler Hart

VOICES Napa Program Coordinator

My name is Tyler Hart and I am the Program Coordinator at VOICES Napa. My first job was as the neighborhood paperboy. One of the most valuable life lessons that I have learned so far is that character is not static--who we have been does not have to be who we will become! Change is possible. For me, happiness is the result of living in accordance with my personal values and beliefs, and seeking to empower myself and those with whom I come into contact. *LOVE=SERVICE* If I had unlimited funding, I would ensure adequate legal counsel for ALL defendants facing criminal charges in the US. I would enact a program to assemble a team of the most qualified attorneys, social workers, mental health professionals, etc., to affect positive change in the criminal justice system.

You can reach me at tylerh@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Odelia Bueno

VOICES Napa Independent Living Program Case Manager

My name is Odelia Bueno and I am the Independent Living Program Case Manager at VOICES Napa. My first job was at the summer CRUZ Program through VOICES. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is to never give up; only the strong survive. My definition of happiness is being the mother to my beautiful daughter. If I had unlimited funding, I would create an affordable housing program for all youth to access.

You can reach me at odelia@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Jolene Pighini

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

My name is Jolene Pighini and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa. My first job was working in the kitchen at Burgerfi. The most valuable life lesson I've learned so far is to surround yourself with people who care about you and are looking out for you. My definition of happiness is being able to wake up in the morning excited about the day and the people I get to be around and the new things I get to experience. If I had unlimited funding, I would love for all students to have access to free therapy and mental health services.

You can reach me at jolene@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Rhys Vanhonk

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

My name is Rhys Vanhonk and I’m a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa. My first job was as an Intern at VOICES. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far would have to be there is no one too busy in this world, it's always about priorities, you will always find time for the things you feel are important. My definition of happiness is that it’s that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can't help but smile. happiness is a sense of wellbeing, joy, or contentment, successful, safe or lucky thats happiness. If I had unlimited funding to create my own program, I would build a type of recreation center with all the sports and activities you can think of.

You can reach me at rhys@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Carmen Lockard

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

My name is Carmen Lockard and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa. My first job was the VOICES Work Crew. The most valuable life lesson I have learned so far is that you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow. My definition of happiness is doing the right things for the right reasons; happiness is truly loving and accepting myself and others; happiness is that feeling when I look up at the stars and I feel like I am exactly where I am suppose to be and my heart smiles. If I had unlimited funding, I would definitely want to create some kind of program that would provide unlimited housing to people who can't afford or struggle to afford living here in Napa.

You can reach me at carmen@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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Angie Avina

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

My name is Angie Avina and I am a Youth Advocate at VOICES Napa. My first job was working at IHOP as a hostess. The most valuable life lesson I’ve learned so far is to not let anyone tell you that you're unable to do something. My definition of "happiness" is being who I am without worrying about others standards they have for me. If I had unlimited funding, I would put it to making VOICES spread throughout California and later the rest of the world.

You can reach me at angie@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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PABLO TOSCANO

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

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.

 
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Jesus Flores

VOICES Napa Youth Advocate

My name is Jesus Flores and I am a Youth Staff at VOICES Napa. My first job was as a dishwasher at Aegis Retirement Home.

The most valuable life lesson I've learned so far is that no matter what has happened in your past or will happen in your future, you have to learn to love yourself.

My definition of “happiness” is being accepted by those around you and having them look forward to seeing/speaking with you

If there was unlimited funding, I  would want to create Some sort of designated transportation system for youth that need rides to and from the center(s), without having to wait long periods for their own rides (that are possibly busy) or having to ask any staff to take time out of their schedule to take them.

You can reach me at jesus@voicesyouthcenter.org.

 
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ANGEL MACKELVIE

VOICES Napa Education Navigator

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

 
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TARA LEDEZMA

Director of Youth Services, VOICES Napa & SPARK Initiative

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 Program 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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Erica Hickey-Smith

VOICES Policy Coordinator

One important thing that I’ve learned is that no matter what life throws at you, the way that you react to it shows your true character, and your true character should always shine through every decision you make.

If I had an unlimited amount of funding at my fingertips, I would find housing for school for young people especially the ones going to college. I would finally by county property and turn it into youth center in my county. I would create a scholarship fund for young people to live out there one life dream once they have successfully completed vacation all training certificate program or college. I’d sponsor positions for young people to work with local officials to understand their communities better the needs of their communities and get a better idea of what they’d like to do in the future if it were to local.

 
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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.