"The DCYHC gives youth the opportunity to discover a state of wellness that leads to achievement."
-Barbara Raboy, Former DCYHC Director
By Jane Northrop, Pacifica Tribune Staff Writer
Posted: May 15, 2017
Two with deep ties in Pacifica earned the highest honors at the annual gala fundraiser for the Daly City Youth Health Center.
Oceana High School wellness counselor Melissa Ambrose earned the Carol Forest Service Award and Oceana graduate Geraldine Mack earned the Jane Hipe Memorial Award.
Kimberly Gillette, director of the Daly City Youth Health Center, noted in her opening remarks and in the program for “Spring for Youth” April 27, an event sponsored and attended by many Pacificans, “You know the challenges youth face, especially in Northern San Mateo County, and the limited resources available for them. You are part of creating a future with healthier youth who make smarter decisions.”
Last year, 1,706 youth received medical care; 45 peer educators met weekly at five schools to learn more about their bodies and gain leadership and public speaking skills. Daly City Youth Health Center therapists counseled youth for 1,617 hours about depression, stress, anxiety, past trauma, substance abuse and relationship challenges. More than 1,329 learned how to make better choices about their reproductive health and 47 were trained in job readiness.
Ambrose became Oceana’s wellness counselor after teaching humanities at Oceana, then earning a master’s degree in social work. She believes in the practice of mindfulness for mental and physical well-being. She completed a year-long teacher training program with Mindful Schools and has been teaching mindfulness in classrooms, to staff and at conferences.
Ambrose has been on the advisory board for the Daly City Youth Health Center for the last five years and knows the important role the Daly City Youth Health Center fills for youth.
As she received her award, she spoke how happy she was to work with the Daly City Youth Health Center as an extension of her work with the Jefferson Union High School District.
“Daly City Youth Health Center is a place of hope for our youth. We need strength and trust to overcome difficulty. I can’t imagine doing my job without Daly City Youth Health Center,” she said. “It helps young people open their hearts and start healing. What keeps me afloat is my love for youth.”
Mack is a first-generation college student who attends Laney Community College. She grew up in Daly City and faced financial hardships while an Oceana High School student. That stressed her. When she found her community and personal value as a member of the Sex Ed Squad, her confidence grew. She was a peer educator for three years.
Mack became an intern for six months with Project PLAY at the Daly City Youth Health Center. As such she helped plan Sex Squad events. She recruited and helped facilitate the Youth Advisory Council. This work helped her find her passion as an educator, especially for people from diverse backgrounds. She now works at East Bay Asian Youth Center as an academic mentor.
“It was through the Sex Squad that I learned how to express myself,” Mack said. “Now I am an academic mentor. I still feel mood fluctuations, but I will always feel I have support. Thanks to all at the Daly City Youth Health Center for helping me get through high school.”
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