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 Honoring Women in Prevention

​​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 organization representatives.

"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.