By Christo­pher Oak Reinier

When Jonathan Gali­cia went to high school in San­ta Rosa, he joined a group of class­mates help­ing undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grant youth make their way in a poten­tial­ly hos­tile envi­ron­ment.  The friend­ships he made there inspired him to become a social work­er. He found new cause for his ded­i­ca­tion when he saw that many of his qual­i­fied class­mates could not go fur­ther with their edu­ca­tion, as he could, because of their undoc­u­ment­ed sta­tus, or the cost of the fees, and oth­er expens­es.

At San­ta Rosa Junior Col­lege, Jonathan met class­mates involved with the DREAM­ers move­ment, which focused on help­ing undoc­u­ment­ed youth brought to the U.S. by their par­ents.  He helped to form the Sono­ma Coun­ty Dream Alliance which became The North Bay Immi­grant Union, now an effec­tive force in the defense of these vul­ner­a­ble young peo­ple.

For instance, when the Union was first formed, the police were arrest­ing young dri­vers for minor infrac­tions and then impound­ing their cars.  The expense of recov­er­ing their cars was so high it made recov­ery almost impos­si­ble. The Union found legal help to com­bat the prac­tice and the auto­mat­ic impound­ing is no longer prac­ticed. The Union  assists the youth in many dif­fer­ent ways, includ­ing help­ing them with col­lege appli­ca­tions.

rom the J.C., Jonathan went to U.C. Davis where last year he earned a B.A. degree with a dou­ble major in psy­chol­o­gy and soci­ol­o­gy.  Intent on pur­su­ing his inter­est in social work, he interned as a legal aide for youth in Sacra­men­to for a year. “I learned a lot” Jonathan says, “just being in that sit­u­a­tion.” This spring he returned to Sono­ma Coun­ty at the time WCCS was look­ing for a replace­ment for Vivian Diaz, who has been serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Youth Pro­grams.  She is going to Sono­ma State this fall.

In the com­ing year, Johathan will be work­ing with 12 young clients “and count­ing” in a pro­gram fund­ed by the State’s Work­force Inno­va­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act. Enroll­ment is open all year for this pro­gram, in which he will assist youth who are employ­ment-chal­lenged, help­ing them to find work and to become self-suf­fi­cient.

Jonathan has found the kind of work he has been prepar­ing for since his high school years in San­ta Rosa.  WCCS is for­tu­nate he’s found it here.