Meet the Team: Justin Burgess

Justin Burgess, Program Liaison Americorps

Meet Justin Burgess, our new Program Liaison Americorps. Before moving here from Wyoming for this position, Justin worked as a clinical social worker and part-time manager of a local pizzeria & pub. With mentors having played a big part in his own development, he felt that “the chance to encourage others through a similarly life-changing process was an opportunity that I could just not pass up.” Justin has a proclivity for cooking and sundry outdoor activities. He also loves to learn through varying mediums including books, community activities, podcasts, and more. Looking forward in his work with CfY, he hopes to learn alongside, connect with, and share service-oriented experiences in the company of members of the CfY community.

Meet the Team: Janice Deguchi

Janice Deguchi, Executive Director

Janice is a not so recent graduate of Rainier Beach High School one of CfY’s partner schools. A lifelong south Seattle resident, she brings her passion for her community to Community for Youth. Janice has served in numerous leadership roles including as Executive Director of Denise Louie Education Center, a birth-five preschool/Head Start program serving South Seattle and South King County. Prior to CfY, Janice worked at Keiro Northwest, a senior health care organization where she oversaw seven programs aimed at maintaining seniors’ health and wellness. Janice is a proud parent of four young adults. Her son, AJ is a senior at Franklin High School, a CfY partner school. Janice holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and Masters in Education from Seattle University. She enjoys good food, hiking and dancing.

Meet Our Community with Sophia Siao

Sophia with her mentees

I became involved with CfY because I felt the need to contribute to something greater than just my world. I was looking for a way to give back in which I could not only give time but build a relationship with someone one-on-one.

The mentors I’ve had in my life have helped me overcome the most significant challenges I’ve faced, as well as helped propel me in both my career and life. When I found out about CFY, I thought it was the perfect way to give back through building a relationship with a student.

My experiences with CfY have taught me perspective. You start mentoring because you think you can teach students about your experiences, your challenges; what you end up receiving is lessons from your students.

My favorite memory from this year was watching both of my mentees graduate. Watching them walk across the stage and realizing how much they had grown into strong, confident women compared to the beginning of the year was amazing.

Alumni Spotlight: Ruby Tsoi

Ruby Tsoi, CfY Alumni

Ruby was involved with CfY for three years and recently graduated from Cleveland High School earlier this year. We caught up with Ruby to see how her experiences with CfY are still impacting her after graduation:

“When I was involved with CfY, I was able to befriend people of various ages such as the mentors and the other peers of my school. I felt like equals with the mentors during family groups, and it allowed me to befriend other college students (some were even parents with kids) easily. Because of these relationships, even during high school, CfY inspired me to put myself in a mentor-like role by joining Team Read. It also made me wonder if there might be more occurrences where I can inspire other people like what Odessa, my mentor, has done for me. I still keep in touch with Odessa, and even other mentors from my family groups. Even if I’m not a CfY student anymore, I still like to have them around.

If I could give any advice to current students in the program, I would say, utilize as much of your mentor as you can. Since many students are in the process of reaching adulthood, they have a resource in their mentor who could assist them in achieving the process further. I’m currently at South Seattle Community College and I’m still indecisive about my future, but I remind myself that it’s perfectly fine…”

Current Match Spotlight: Stephanie and Johairah

Stephanie, left, and Johairah

Stephanie and Johairah are embarking on their second year together in the CfY program. Stephanie told us about their relationship and what she’s looking forward to this year:

“When we met the first night at camp we sat in a big circle for our icebreaker. I sat next to Johairah. We had to share our favorite lyric with each other, and she had a nice one. I couldn’t think of a lyric so picked a funny one. We laughed pretty hard when she had to recite it to the group. The rest of the weekend I felt connected to Johairah because there are a lot of similarities in our personalities. I admired how brave she was, and how open and supportive she was to everyone she was meeting. Johairah and I have a great friendship. We get along really well, and conversations feel safe and natural.

There are a lot of things I admire about Johairah. She is amazingly smart, driven, and so determined. She is an amazing friend and is extremely involved at school and in her community. I admire her ability to listen and step back when others want to step up. Johairah is also super cool, always open to trying new things, and I am lucky to be her friend. This year I am excited to continue to have good conversations, share meals together, and go on some adventures together. I always joke that she is my mentor, and hopefully, as she goes through her last couple years of high school, I can help her find good resources in the engineering world that she can use to figure out what her next step is. I can’t wait to create an even stronger friendship and make lots of memories!”


Meet Our Community with Jerrid Anderson

Jerrid Anderson, Mentor

The primary reason I became a CfY mentor was to give back. I was fortunate to have the upbringing I did, and my family has always been dedicated to giving back through volunteering and monetary contributions. CfY gave me the opportunity to do both while also learning a tremendous amount about myself and the student I mentored.

My experience with CfY changed me in many ways. The most exciting change I have noticed in my life is learning to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I have learned that people are generally wonderful, especially at CfY and I was able to meet so many people from different walks of life. From the students to the other mentors and program leaders I was able to gain a new appreciation for hardships and victories everyone faces on a daily basis, and it had a positive impact on the way I live my life. Expect the best out of people, and you will usually get it!

We Are Thankful For: Traditions

Mohammed and his Family Group

A family group is an intimate gathering of people within CFY. This photo captures the fulfillment we all felt at the conclusion of our first meeting. These close groups are so important because they strengthen the circle of support between a mentor and mentee even further. They give the students and mentors an opportunity to be at ease and lean on each other for support.

On this wet and cold November night, our family group had a homemade pizza party that allowed us to warm up to each other and energized us for the year ahead. Family group gatherings are one of the many traditions within CFY which help both students and mentors develop positive relationships and strengthen our values. As a 4th-year mentor family groups have allowed me to venture into activities I never knew I would be interested in; they also give me the courage and incentive to try things I’m curious about like singing karaoke.

I know the mentors and students benefit greatly from being able to have family group nights and I’m thankful to the folks who make a space like CFY possible.

We Are Thankful For: Memories Made

Malyun, student, on the big swing

Over the next week, in celebration of this time of Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing stories of individuals that have been impacted by CfY and because of that, by the donors that support us. Today, we are thankful for the opportunity to make lasting and meaningful Memories. Malyun, a CfY student, shares unforgettable memories that she made at Camp Colman.

“I made so many memories at Camp that it’s hard to pick just one. One that stands out was the giant swing. I love being able to challenge myself so, when I saw how high the giant swing was I kind of got terrified. The mentors and the students in my group were very uplifting and supportive. I decided to challenge myself and go on the swing because I know this opportunity only comes once. It was such a fun and scary experience, and I’m so grateful for everyone encouraging me to take on the challenge.

Some memories that I made have already become lifelong memories. I’ll always remember the relationships that I got to build with the people in my cabin and the time I got to bond with every one of them. Also the positive energy I received as soon as I got to camp.

I would like to thank you for making this experience possible. I know joining CFY has been one of the best decisions I have made, and I am forever grateful for having an amazing opportunity. So thank you again.”

Meet Our Community with Nicolette Bruer

Nicolette and her mentee, Jasmine

Matching with my student on Match Night in 2016 was an emotionally uplifting experience. The time I have spent with my student, Jasmine, has opened my eyes to the way I was at her age and has made me realize that the things that seemed to matter so much at the time, always blew over. Towards the end of our year together, it finally clicked that this is the same in my present life. Although, the now seemingly trivial problems that Jasmine and I have are much different, what I learned from my relationship with her made me realize that each roadblock I come across too shall pass.

I’ll never forget when I said goodbye to Jasmine on the last day before summer break; her mother hugged me and told me she had noticed a real difference in Jasmine. It was a touching feeling.

Nicolette and Jasmine are returning for another year of mentorship, family group and fun for 2017-2018! Thank you, Nicolette and Jasmine, for sharing your CfY story!

We Are Thankful For: Strength

Tiffany, CfY Mentor

Over the next week, in celebration of this time of Thanksgiving, we’ll be sharing stories of individuals that have been impacted by CfY and because of that, by the donors that support us. Today, we are thankful for Strength. Tiffany, a CfY mentor, shares her story of finding strength within her experiences with us.

“I was not planning on rock climbing since I hadn’t been in years. Fear made me doubt myself – fear of being too old to rock climb, fear of not being able to make it far enough, fear of falling and hurting myself. I probably would have sat out this activity if it wasn’t for encouragement from a student. She inspired me to show up, let go of the storylines that might’ve held me back, and give it my best shot. I’m so glad I did.

Rock climbing is harder than it looks! It took both physical and mental strength for me to test my limits. I had to trust both my ability and the belay team to have my back. This trust enabled me to tap into my inner strength, which it turns out, is stronger than I imagined.  I got about 2/3 of the way up by thoughtfully planning each step. Finally, with all my limbs shaking, I knew to listen to my body and come back down. This was so physically challenging that I was sore for the next couple of days just from my one attempt up the wall. I know I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did without the students and other mentors cheering me on. Because of this experience, I have a tremendous amount of appreciation and gratitude for CfY – for teaching me about trusting myself, reconnecting with my inner strength, and for giving me a newfound interest in rock climbing!

I am grateful to the donors who give us the opportunity to come together to support youth, who inspire us, and who hopefully get inspired by us too. There is strength in numbers within CfY, and I’m so proud to be part of it.”