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YOTO Receives Copper Cactus Award

After applying for several years, Youth On Their Own was chosen out of sixteen applicants to be this year’s recipient of the Tucson Electric Power Charitable Non-Profit Business Copper Cactus Award for medium-sized charities. YOTO was recognized by the selection committee for outstanding performance in helping Southern Arizona’s homeless youth remain in school and pursue opportunities for self-sufficiency. We are honored to have received this award.

Staff Spotlight: Diego Coronado (Program Coordinator)

This week, we’ll be sharing with you another one of YOTO’s newest staff members: Diego! Diego is one of four Program Coordinators who work one-on-one with the students enrolled in Youth On Their Own. Learn a little more about Diego and how his background in Public Health has expanded our program services for students. “I am originally from Nogales, Arizona – a border town next to Sonora, Mexico – but have been a Tucsonan for 11 years now. I graduated from Cholla High School in 2012 and from the University of Arizona in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public …

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Staff Spotlight: Monika Cabrera (Program Coordinator)

This week, we’ll be sharing with you one of YOTO’s newest staff members: Monika Cabrera! Monika is one of four Program Coordinators who work one-on-one with the students enrolled in Youth On Their Own. Learn a little more about Monika and how she came to become one of YOTO’s most passionate team members! “I graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Community Education and a minor in Special Education. Throughout college, I worked part-time for Jacobs YMCA in their after school program and created curriculum for their summer camp. Throughout my …

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AZ Daily Star—Tucson middle school students get to pick the brains of professionals

Professionals Needed to Mentor Students For professionals who want to give back but have limited time, the Leadership Institute may be the answer. For about 15 to 20 hours over the course of a school year, mentors talk life skills with seventh- and eighth-graders at Safford K-8 School, 200 E. 13th St. The mostly after-school program focuses on preparing students for high school, college, and life beyond. For eighth-grader DeBrandi Valenzuela, the Leadership Institute last year gave the her the confidence to speak up in classes and even in a school assembly. Rosie Valdez, now a freshman at Cholla High …

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Alumni Update – Jesus Valenzuela (Class of 2016)

This is chapter 2 of Jesus Valenzuela’s story, centered on his experiences during the second semester of his Freshmen year at the University of Arizona. Jesus is 19 years old, and is a graduate of Desert View High School in Tucson, where he was born and raised. Jesus is passionate about music, basketball, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business. Jesus says he spent much of the second semester losing weight he gained during the first semester, “One of the things that I really struggled with back in my first semester was my increased weight gain. I gained …

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Get to Know: Deb Salaiz, Board Member

Written by Reilly Salkowski, YOTO Volunteer With her connections and involvement in the Old Pueblo, one would automatically think Deb Salaiz is a native Tucsonan. Nope — she was born and raised in Southern California, but she happily embraced Tucson as her new home after moving here to work for General Dynamics, which later became Hughes Aircraft. Deb — who received her Bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from the University of La Verne and earned a Master’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix — now works at Raytheon, where she is senior manager of proposals excellence. Before …

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It Takes A Village: Youth On Their Own’s Resale Home Store

Written by Reilly Salkowski, YOTO Volunteer The YOTO Home Store was founded in October 2015 and has continued to grow ever since. All products for sale in the Home Store are donations from the community, ranging from glassware to artwork. It takes a handful of eager student interns and volunteers as well as a dedicated manager, however, to make well-loved trinkets look like new and arrange them into elegant displays around the store. Georgina Waller started volunteering with YOTO in October 2016, both at the front desk and in the Home Store until she was promoted to full-time manager this …

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Get to Know: Glynda Underwood, Board Member

Written by Julia Davenport, YOTO Marketing & Communications Assistant As a young child, Glynda moved around a lot… enjoying the opportunity to visit new cities/states and meet new people! She was born in a small town in East Texas where she lived with her grandparents until she was 12. Afterwards, she moved to Gary, Indiana, to live with her mother and step-father. Glynda stayed in Gary until her freshman year of high school when her family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. After a few years in Nevada, her family again relocated to Phoenix, Arizona where Glynda finished her senior year …

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Get to Know: William Taylor, Board Member

Written by Julia Davenport, YOTO Marketing & Communications Assistant William, a local general dentist, has been practicing dentistry for 9 years. The Shreveport, Louisiana native came to Tucson to become a University of Arizona Wildcat. William, prior to college, had always gravitated to science-related courses and topics. As an undergraduate student, he explored multiple science and healthcare related options but enjoyed the artistic and esthetic challenge of dentistry and eventually solidified his path. He studied biochemistry and upon graduation, he enrolled at the University of Southern California to earn his doctorate in dental surgery. William then returned to Tucson to …

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Get to Know: Bob Villamana, Board Member

Written by Julia Davenport, YOTO Marketing & Communications Assistant Bob grew up in suburban New York in the town of Eastchester. The middle child, Bob has been lucky to stay close with his siblings, especially his younger sister. After growing up in New York, Bob attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and served on the school’s Student Council with Bill Clinton! Upon graduation, Bob moved to Tucson to attend law school at the U of A and fell in love with the desert and stayed. After law school, Bob worked for his law firm for 43 years practicing real estate …

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Washington Federal helps homeless youth with education

Washington Federal branches across Pima County have partnered with local nonprofit Youth On Their Own and its annual “Back to School Challenge.” Now through October 1, please visit any of the below Washington Federal locations and make a donation to the cause: 1833 S. 6th Ave. in Tucson 4788 E. Sunrise Drive in Tucson 5520 E. Grant Road in Tucson 1315 W. Prince Road in Tucson 8001 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley Donations needed include: Adult-sized backpacks Highlighters Colored pencils Markers Scientific/graphing calculators Index cards Mechanical pencil Flash drives Folders Composition notebooks $10 or $25 gift cards to grocery …

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Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Nanos

This week, we’ll be sharing with you one of YOTO’s newest volunteers: Chris Nanos! Get to know a little more about the retired Pima County Sheriff and why he feels passionately about giving back to his community. Name: Chris Nanos Where are you from originally? I’m originally from El Paso, Texas, but I’ve lived in the Tucson area for the past 34 years. What was your first job? I joined the El Paso Police Department in 1976… other than mowing lawns and helping my brother with his newspaper route, that was my very first job. Where have you worked/volunteered? I …

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