According to Just Say YES Board Member and Youth Advocate Jorge Gutierrez,
“Reflecting on the past year, we truly have so much to be thankful for at Just Say YES. Because of supporters like you, we have been able to expand our programming in the Dallas-Fort Worth area; equipping thousands of K-12th grade students to say YES to their dreams and goals and no to destructive choices.
“At the top of the Just Say YES wish list is to begin fundraising for the 22nd Annual Friends First STARS National Conference held each summer in Colorado. The action-packed, four-day event empowers teens to become leaders, learn how to build healthy relationships, and understand the importance of avoiding high-risk behaviors in order to achieve success (such as alcohol, drugs, dropping out, dating violence and bullying). Teens also get to experience life on a college campus, while learning important life-skills and how to be a positive role model in their community.
“In 2017, 19 student mentors from the Just Say YES Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program (along with three adult coordinators) attended the conference, and in 2018, an increase of 28 students attended; making Just Say YES the largest student group outside the state of Colorado.
“As the Just Say YES Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program expands its Dallas-Fort Worth reach, and with student interest growing to attend the conference, we must start now in our fundraising efforts to cover the cost of both admission ($429 per student) and round-trip airfare (est. $450 per student). Our goal is to send at least 30 students to the 2019 conference.
“We believe that every student deserves the right to achieve a better and brighter future, regardless of their background or circumstance. Many of our student mentors come from low-income households within the DFW area, and possess powerful stories of overcoming adversity. Through Just Say YES, the STARS National Conference provides a unique opportunity for kids in our community, whom might not otherwise have the means to experience something of this caliber. For the majority of our students who attend, it is their first time to travel outside the state of Texas, as well as their first time on an airplane.
“Denilzon, a student mentor from Thomas Jefferson High School in the Dallas Independent School District, said of the 2018 conference, ‘Because of your support, I was able to attend the STARS National Conference; a place that encouraged and taught me that I am worth more than I ever realized.’
“I believe what makes the Dallas philanthropic community so remarkable is that we make the impossible, possible. This giving season, we ask you to please consider sending a Just Say YES student to the STARS National Conference for a leadership opportunity they’ll never forget.
“Thank you for caring for our youth. On behalf of the students and DFW schools we serve, please know what significant impact you make by supporting Just Say YES.
* Photo provided by Just Say YES