Editor’s Note: The staff of Coachella Uninc. recently gathered for our Thanksgiving dinner to reflect on everything for which we are thankful. While we are all grateful for our families and our health, we also realize how fortunate we are to be surrounded by people dedicated to building up the young people in our community.
The following are just a few of the people for whom we are grateful – people that our youth reporters have had meaningful personal interaction with in the past year — each representing countless others working hard everyday for the benefit of our youth.
Silvia Paz, Building Healthy Communities
As a whirlwind year of growth, and change dwindles to a close, its time to reflect with gratitude about those who have played prominent roles. Silvia Paz, the new BHC hub manager, is unquestionably an individual who positively shaped my year. I met Silvia over a year ago, during my internship at Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez’s office. I was most excited to receive tasks from Silvia because she went out of her way to cultivate and stretch the breadth of my understanding. As a young woman who grew up in a restrictive male- dominated environment, having a successful, educated woman take the time to consult my opinion meant the world. I have learned more from her example and counsel within the past year than I have in the classroom. I even owe Silvia for my current job, that my own self-reservations never allowed me to consider. Silvia has never judged my capabilities based on my lack of degree. Within a matter of minutes she placed a call to recommend me. My heart swells with pride to hold her good opinion and respect. I cannot say I have ever had anyone believe in me like that. In times when I feel thrown off track, I remember conversations with Silvia where she’s made me feel that it’s only a matter of time before I can move mountains.
I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, everyone like Silvia, who are a mentor to youth and are building a healthy community by raising up strong individuals.
-Aurora Saldivar, College of the Desert
Ray Ramirez, teacher
No words or actions can express how thankful I am for my Spanish teacher, Mr. Ramirez. He has motivated me to perfect my Spanish and writing skills. Mr. Ramirez has taught me to appreciate my Mexican culture and the importance of giving back to my community. I’m definitely blessed for a having a teacher who doesn’t mind driving two hours to Coachella in order to teach his beloved culture and Spanish.
-Karla Martinez, Olive Crest Academy
Tiffany Hargrave, teacher
I am thankful my teacher, Ms. Hargrave, because she has taught me a lot over the past year. She was my art teacher last year and taught me a lot about art that I never knew about. This year, since I applied for leadership and was accepted, she is my leadership teacher. Being in leadership is a new experience for me, and there were mostly all members from last year. But Ms. Hargrave was patient and understanding of the new member like myself. She has led us through many events and showed us that being good leaders can be fun and that we can have fun while being good role models to our peers. She has been patient, kind and really supportive on our ideas and does small changes where they need to be. She’s shown me that I can have fun but also work together with others to create something all the students can enjoy.
– Maria Garcia, Olive Crest Academy
Trinidad Arredondo, Regional Access Project Foundation
There are many people that come to mind when I ponder the question “Who am I thankful for?” While I am thankful for good health and the presence of family, friends, and colleagues, there is one person that sticks out especially to me. This year, I am especially thankful for my friend, colleague, and mentor Trinidad Arredondo. I had the pleasure of meeting Trini almost two years ago when I first joined Coachella Unincorporated. Trini has always been there for me to lend a helping hand when I am covering events or to offer ideas on what I should do next. He has pushed me to strive for more as a community advocate and as a student. For that I am thankful for Trini this holiday season.
-Johnny Flores, Jr., Xavier College Prep
Maria Smith, teacher
I never trusted a teacher in my life. I only see them for one year so I never made such a strong connection. But something changed me once I joined the Coachella Valley High School Health Academy. I actually opened up to a teacher and realize I was beyond wrong to not have done so before. My health teacher, Mrs. Smith, is always there to talk to and she won’t judge you. She does everything she can to help you. One thing I love about her is that she is very easy to talk to. Being in the Health Academy, I will have the same teachers for the rest of my high school years. I am grateful for having a teacher like Mrs. Smith to talk to and help me through thick or thin. My advice to others is don’t be afraid to talk to someone about your problems. You never know how much it will impact you.
-Victoria Contreras, Coachella Valley High School
Jocelyn Vargas, Raices
Jocelyn Vargas inspires me to become selfless by giving to others. I will always be grateful for all her hard work she had devoted to the community and all opportunities she has given me. I am grateful for impactful discussions we have that help me perceive things differently. For discussions and lessons that have shaped the person I am. She is not just an inspiration to me, but to many others who appreciate all the love she puts in everything she does. I will forever be grateful for all the laughs and tears we have shared.
Jocelyn, thank you for being my mentor and friend.
-Alejandra Alarcon, College of the Desert