Organization of the Month: Monarch School
(Photo taken in 2018)
Monarch School is the largest and most-comprehensive K-12 program in the country for youth experiencing homelessness, serving up to 350 students daily. The school's name was chosen by students in 1998 as a tribute to the Monarch butterfly, a symbol of "their current struggle as well as the success they hope to achieve."
Founded by Sandra McBrayer in 1987 to provide youth experiencing homelessness with academic resources, Monarch School now functions as a public-private partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and the 501(c)(3) Monarch School Project. In 2013, Monarch School moved its campus to Barrio Logan, where it continues to expand its services today.
Understanding that the pandemic poses unique challenges for its students, Monarch School provides meals, housing resources, clothing, and PPE to families. When libraries and other community spaces closed, the school provided hotel vouchers to students and families so they could continue to attend class. To assist students outside the realm of the classroom, staff serve as case managers to provide regular check-ins to further support student, family and alumni needs.
This month, rather than hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner, Monarch School provided hundreds of safe to-go meals via the Coronado-Monarch School Turkey Project. The school is also collecting prepaid gift cards to give students and families for the holidays.
Please join me in thanking Monarch School and its staff for all they do to improve the lives of our youth experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
Citizen of the Month: Patricia Ureña
Patricia Ureña is an incredibly dedicated public servant who uses her talents to give back to the community in which she grew up. The Calexico native has served as Recreation Supervisor for the City Of El Centro for nearly 40 years. During her tenure, she has expanded recreational opportunities for Imperial Valley youth, including developing various sports leagues and playing an instrumental role in making the El Centro Aquatic Center a reality.
Patricia also serves as Director of the local National Youth Project Using Mini-Bikes Program, which aims to help at-risk youth develop strong values and a sense of responsibility using the mini-bike as a teaching tool. In addition to her work for the City of El Centro, Patricia is the Area Director for the Special Olympics of Imperial Valley. She has also served as chair of Imperial County's Juvenile Justice Commission since 2007, where she advocates for children and youth in the county's juvenile justice system.
As if these accolades aren't enough, in 2018, Patricia was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission. She is also a member of the El Centro Optimist Club Board, El Centro Elks Lodge 1325, El Centro Kiwanis Club and MANA de Imperial Valley.
Patricia Ureña is an inspiration to all, and we are so fortunate that she has dedicated her life to making Imperial Valley a better place for our youth. Thank you, Patricia!