picture of Vivian

Vivian Diaz, Y.E.E.S. Case Manager

By Vivian Diaz

Gustavo Vargas, or Goose as many friends call him; a Forestville native, an El Molino High School graduate, a community volunteer and the biggest Raider’s fan I’ve ever met. Gustavo enrolled in the Youth Education and Employment Services program after graduating from high school in the summer of 2015. Towards the end of high school, Gustavo was looking for support applying to the Santa Rosa Junior College and help finding a summer job. He heard about a great program from a close friend who was involved in youth services at West County Community Services (WCCS). Gustavo joined the WCCS Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps (SCYEC) as a crew member that summer doing ecology work in his community. Never having a job before, Gustavo explains the skills he learned, “It was a valuable experience for me. I got to work on a team, make friends, make money, and learn skills.” Gustavo is known in the WCCS office as a happy go lucky, outgoing young man. He is a hard worker with a positive attitude. His personality grew and shined while working with SCYEC. Gustavo states that the person he is today required him to overcome challenges and believe in himself.

As a child, Gustavo was shy and lacked confidence.  It was an uncle of his who got Gustavo into football. Never caught without his Raider’s cap on today, Gustavo says football changed his life. After being introduced to football, he was no longer that shy, self-conscious boy. He transformed into strong and confident person. He joined the freshman team at El Molino.  The sport taught him discipline, teamwork, and how to be an athlete. Gustavo became a well-known for his athleticism throughout his time at El Molino, also known for his exemplary effort on the El Molino wrestling team. Despite his face being all over the Press Democrat for his athletic achievements, Gustavo struggled academically with a learning disability. He explains, most people can just do things, like a homework assignment or take a test without much effort. An RSP student at El Molino, Gustavo describes everything he does takes more effort than the average person. For example, writing a short essay might take someone else a day to complete, but it might take Gustavo two days. But for Gustavo, this has never stopped him, in fact it is what motivates him.

Today, Gustavo’s career goal is to become a police officer, and WCCS is helping him along the way. He is currently enrolled and taking classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) for a second year. Gustavo still works just as hard to accomplish academic success, not only receiving support from WCCS but also from SRJC Disability Resources Department (DRD). His WCCS case manager helped him sign up for DRD services. He receives tutoring and note taking support from DRD services. He is working towards finishing his General Education at SRJC in hopes to transfer to a 4 year college or join the police academy.

While always actively looking for a job, Gustavo spends most of his free time as a full time volunteer for local football teams in West County. Throughout Fall 2016, he has been the defensive line coach for the El Molino Lions Varsity football team, as well as the defensive coach for the Forestville Pop Warner youth football team. This winter, he will be taking on a new venture of co-coaching the Brook Haven Middle School basketball team in Sebastopol. Gustavo describes his coaching method as his own, he takes bits and pieces from all his previous teachers and coaches and mixes it with his own style. Gustavo has great respect for his coaches, they are some of his most important role models. He says his community service work volunteering with the local youth sports teams comes from a place of having a great desire to help others be better. He says that sports changed his life, and he appreciates everything his coaches did for him. Gustavo gives back to his community by paying it forward. He spills blood, sweat and tears for his athletes in hopes they have more opportunities than he did. He wants the athletes to be more motivated academically than he was, win more games than he did, and believe in themselves more.  He hopes they feel the same sense of relief in life knowing there is something like sports, practice, and getting stronger to motivate them to become good people.

An active client of Youth Employment and Education Services at WCCS, Gustavo is working with his case manager, Vivian Diaz, on a regular basis with activities such as academic tutoring and job search. They are working on his goal of being a police officer one step at a time. They are currently working towards getting him his driver’s license and obtaining a job as a security guard. Gustavo says he is very thankful for the support he receives from WCCS and that he feels very fortunate. Gustavo looks forward to his future and has his eyes set on his goals.