Northeast Valley Best Start Social Resources Project:
Vagando Towards Empowerment

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NEV’s Social Resources Project focused on providing families in the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, Pacoima and Arleta, with programs that will help meet their needs via workshops, new projects, and professional services.

 

NEV Best Start conducted a needs assessment survey throughout the community (up to 700 ideas were collected from that survey). The community was involved in the process and requested the funds to meet the following identified needs: Education, Mental Health, Technology, and Wellness.

 

These results were published on the NEV Best website and community organizations were invited to submit a grant application to propose a project to positively influence 1 or more of the priority categories identified in the assessment.

Upon reviewing the priority areas, HVBR decided to focus on two pillars: Education and Mental Health. Our education strategies focused on addressing education equity by facilitating different workshops geared towards empowering the community in their journey to higher education. 

 

Our mental health series, provided information on the importance of mental health, the role it plays in our well-being, destigmatizing common perceptions, and researching and pursuing resources to promote our prosperity.

HVBR & NEV Best start scholarship ceremony

WORKSHOPs

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Mental Health Workshop - Part 1

This workshop will be facilitated by Kristal Ruiz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who currently works as an Individual Psychotherapist. She was born and raised in New York City where she obtained her bachelor’s in Psychology from The New School, a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College where she also obtained a special certification in providing trauma informed therapies; and obtained a post-master's degree from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in Advanced Diagnosis and Assessment. She has spent over 5 years working with children and adolescents who have experienced varying mental health struggles from depression and anxiety, to academic difficulties and behavior management, to survivors of trauma. Kristal approaches mental health and mental health treatment from a creative space, to help guide people through their healing journey, and employs mindfulness-based practices to encourage all people to be more connected with their bodies and take care of their overall health and wellness. 

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Mental Health Workshop - Part 2

This workshop will be facilitated by Kristal Ruiz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who currently works as an Individual Psychotherapist. She was born and raised in New York City where she obtained her bachelor’s in Psychology from The New School, a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College where she also obtained a special certification in providing trauma informed therapies; and obtained a post-master's degree from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in Advanced Diagnosis and Assessment. She has spent over 5 years working with children and adolescents who have experienced varying mental health struggles from depression and anxiety, to academic difficulties and behavior management, to survivors of trauma. Kristal approaches mental health and mental health treatment from a creative space, to help guide people through their healing journey, and employs mindfulness-based practices to encourage all people to be more connected with their bodies and take care of their overall health and wellness. 

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Financial Aid Empowerment Workshop

 

Our guest speaker, Silvia Marquez currently serves as an Associate Director in the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office and as the HSI Implementation Manager for the University of California, Berkeley. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who were low-income and worked el tomate in the Central Valley; Silvia was raised in Stockton and is a 1st gen college student. She holds a bachelor’s in Social Welfare from Berkeley, a Masters in Public Administration from CSU East Bay and is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Leadership at UC Davis - she is 100% a product of public education. Silvia has over 20 years of student service experience in higher education including director roles in both financial aid and admissions. Her current role allows her to advance DEIB initiatives on the Berkeley campus and within the UC system.

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College Application & Personal Statement Virtual Workshop

 

Our guest speaker, David Melena. A College Prep Counselor, David Melena has over 8 years of experience in higher education access as a former director of college readiness at both College Track and The Foundation for Hispanic Education. He is also a former assistant director of undergraduate admissions at UC Berkeley where he read and evaluated both freshman and transfer admissions application. Currently, David is a college counselor at Bellarmine College Prep a Jesuit high school in San Jose. David cites his experience as a first generation college bound student and son of immigrants from Mexico as a foundation for his pursuit to be a resource to future generations of BIPOC and first generation college bound students.