My First Home For The Holidays
Each year, around 125 youth participants, volunteers, staff, investors, and board members come together for an annual holiday celebration at the progressive Mission Hills United Church of Christ. Volunteers from the church help transform the space into a specially-themed winter wonderland complete with crafts, games, and a holiday boutique where youth receive a Santa bag stuffed to the brim with gifts they can keep for themselves or give to their friends and family! The aroma of the holidays fills the room from co-sponsors, Bekkers Catering, who present a festive lunch spread featuring traditional dishes such as roasted turkey, baked ham, savory stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, baked mac n’ cheese, green bean almondine, and an assortment of freshly-prepared desserts.
Most importantly, My First Home for the Holidays celebrates an uplifting year of accomplishments, and recognizes the growth and efforts of the resilient youth we serve. A highlight of the event is the awarding of three prizes to youth who have made a real impression through their involvement, growth, and spirit throughout the year: the “Connected,” “Confident,” and “Capable” awards! Each awardee shares a compelling and heartfelt story about their life and speaks about how the journey to becoming confident, connected, and/or capable was made possible by the support of the JIT community. Awardees, who are nominated by the JIT volunteer community, get to collaborate on their acceptance speeches with longtime JIT volunteer and author of Business Storytelling For Dummies, Karen Dietz. Each powerful story is brimming with emotion and personal pride, and inspires the entire room!
Special thanks to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who have helped make our My First Home for the Holidays event possible year after year!
2019 Award Winners
Liliana Ramirez (Confident), Karla Miranda-Torres (Connected),
and Mckayla Shelton (Capable).
Past Award Winners
2018: Angie Disbrow, Emilio Carranza-Davis, Marquita Scott • 2017: Vivianna Penn, Janeth Gonzales, Salvador Terrones
2016: Alex Pleitez, Haniyyah Haqq, Alejandra ‘Allie’ Castellanos, Race Haddad • 2015: Maria Arriaga, Hakim Dysart, Porche Cooper, Victoria Willis
2014: Tashara Gaskill, Darius Pinckney, Janitzza Cazares, Gina Delahoussaye