Prevention practitioners are often the unsung heroes that
come to the rescue of so many youth in need.
To help recognize some of them, employees in the San Diego
County Office of Education’s Student Support Services unit put on an annual “Honoring
Women in Prevention Celebration.”
On May 21, more than 100 people attended the sixth annual
event at the Marina Village Conference Center. The celebration recognizes local
women for their work in local schools and communities. Participants included
counselors, mental health workers, school resource officers and community based
"We coordinate this event to acknowledge the critical
work of our community and school partners in prevention efforts," said
Gabriela Baeza, San Diego County Office of Education project specialist and
event coordinator. "The women we are honoring today exemplify the
importance of prevention and motivate others to continue to support and
advocate for youth."
The highlight of the event was the recognition of three
inspiring women in prevention.
Homa Rafii received the Eternal Flame Award, which is presented
to a San Diego County professional who has worked in the prevention field for
at least 15 years and personifies the development and delivery of quality
services with integrity, dedication, and excellence.
Rafii is a retired school librarian and school counselor
from Juvenile Court and Community Schools. During her last four years of service
at San Pasqual Academy, a residential high school campus for foster youth, she
established a resource library for the staff and students, with books,
periodicals, and a computer lab. Her commitment to the National Scholarship
Program and her tireless fundraising effort for “Court Schools Dollars for
Scholars” and “Fostering Opportunities Dollars for Schools” makes a college
education possible for students in need. Her calling and passion is to support
and motivate the students to reach their educational goals and to make a
difference in their personal and social lives. In 2011, Rafii joined the Jessie
Program (a mentoring program for girls in detention) as an advisor, working
with mentors in their continuous effort to make a difference in the lives of
young girls in juvenile detention facilities and in transition to their
communities after being released.
Whitney Baugher was presented with the World of Difference
Award. The award goes to a San Diego County female community member or
paraprofessional who exemplifies diversity, demonstrates a spirit of service,
perseverance, determination, optimism, and hope.
Baugher is in the Public Mental Health Academy program at
San Diego City College. She has worked at Southern Indian Council, Inc. for two
years as the prevention and early intervention counselor, where she has worked
in a number of different capacities with youth, including mentoring, tutoring,
and coaching. Her work includes educating youth and parents about mental health
resources that are available to them.
Courtney Culver received the Shining Star Award. This award
is given to a San Diego County female youth who epitomizes the meaning of
resilience, has overcome life's challenges with a positive attitude, and is
committed to helping others in their school and community.
Culver is earning straight A’s, getting perfect attendance,
and maintaining employment after years of addiction to methamphetamine. She has
been living at Toussaint Academy since April 2013, after completing a drug
treatment program at Phoenix House. Before her treatment, she didn’t see school
as a priority and fell behind. She expects to graduate from Garfield High
School this June and plans to continue on to college. Culver has never lost
sight of her dream of becoming a traveling nurse. In the fall, she will start
community college to pursue this dream.