Coming Full Circle: SOS Hires Three Program Alumni to Inspire the Next Generation of Youth
Fall is finally here! While all of us at SOS love the cooler weather, the vibrant autumn colors, and a good PSL (pumpkin spice latte… get with the lingo), the thing we love most about this season is that winter is right around the corner. Our dedicated program team is hard at work getting youth registered for the season and our incredible community and mountain partners are ensuring that our participants will have mountain access and high-quality equipment to use while out on the slopes. It’s shaping up to be yet another impactful year of programs where we expect to engage 3,000 young people across 9 states, 15 communities, and 24 mountain resorts. What’s more, is that we are thrilled to be expanding our Mentor Program in the midwest and in Steamboat, Colorado. Suffice to say, we are pretty dang stoked – so bring on the snow!
But what makes this season extraordinarily special is what we would call an incredible “full-circle moment”. This year we are excited to announce the hiring of three program staff, all of whom are SOS alumni. Without further ado, we’d like to introduce Uriel Montoya, Heidy Onofre, and Miranda Aguirre. These three accomplished alumni represent North Lake Tahoe, Park City, and Eagle County communities respectively. To us, what’s so important about having alumni on staff is the invaluable insight and experience that they bring to the table. These three have experienced SOS programs firsthand and are now able to use those experiences to re-engage with SOS and make programs possible for young people in their communities.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with each of them and learn about their ‘why’ for working with SOS this season:
“I feel like, growing up, I didn’t have a lot of role models in my community that I could identify with,” says Park City Program Assistant, Heidy Onofre, “so I’m really excited to be returning to SOS with this new role because it’s an outlet for me to guide youth in my community.”
“I remember really wanting to snowboard when I first moved to Truckee, but we didn’t have the money to do it” adds North Lake Program Assistant, Uriel Montoya, “joining SOS changed that, and it’s really cool to come back now and give this opportunity to other kids in Tahoe.”
“I was kind of scared on my first day out on the mountain,” recalls Eagle County Program Assistant, Miranda Aguirre, “I feel like I can understand what kids are feeling on their first day of the season.”
From being a positive role model, to giving back, to being able to empathize with participants, Heidy, Uriel, and Miranda all possess the genuine desire to ensure current SOS participants get as much out of the program as they did.
“I learned a lot from SOS,” says Miranda, “I was able to make a lot of friends, improve my communication skills, and overall just learned so many life skills that I use every day.” Miranda’s hope is that the upcoming generation of SOS youth will be able to learn the same things and have the same positive experiences that she had.
In addition to hiring alumni Program Assistants, a handful of alumni across multiple communities are returning to the program to volunteer as adult mentors for the season. Heidy, who volunteered last year, shares her experience and the impact that a mentor/mentee relationship can have. “One day when we were out riding, one of my participants confided in me that they were no longer planning to go college and instead were thinking of dropping out of school,” Heidy recalls, “I encouraged them to stay in school since they were so close to graduating and then offered to help them register for college.” Heidy followed through on her offer and earlier this summer her mentee reached out to let Heidy know they had successfully registered for classes. “It’s just small experiences like that, that I find really fulfilling,” Heidy says. Heidy’s impact is certainly far from small and the impact that alumni and mentors will have on current participants this season will undoubtedly be great.
For all of us at SOS, it is truly a privilege to work alongside dedicated alumni staff and mentors. There’s so much to look forward to this season and we cannot wait to be out snow with youth in just two months.