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By Leon Thompson

September 20, 2014, El Cajon - Estreanda Fulford-Yates is the President of ‘Living Independently is for Everyone’ a nonprofit Corporation that benefits individuals with any level of disability with the goal of independent living.  Participants receive life training, job training and learn social skills that accelerate their ability to live independently.

Estreanda teamed with Debbie Dahlen the Volunteer Coordinator with the Heartland Coalition’s ‘Youth Build’ Charter High School to place three student, David Lyons, Sean Fuentes, and Luis Sanchez. At the Heartland Coalition ‘YouthBuild’ Charter School the trio made a world of difference.   The three have accomplished so much and have given back to the class so much that State Senator Joel Anderson chose to honor them with the California Senate Certificate of Recognition for their outstanding volunteer achievement.

Here is the story behind this award in Debbie Dahlen's own words.   “I am the volunteer coordinator for Heartland Coalition.  In August of 2013 we partnered with YouthBuild Charter School of California and opened a new school campus in City Heights. We offer a high school diploma program to students 16-24.     

With only two weeks’ notice, we had to transform an abandoned day care and two church classrooms into a senior high school. I was offered volunteers through a program called ‘Living Independently is for Everyone’ in El Cajon.  We needed the help. The trade was that I would teach the volunteers different skills typically used in everyday life.

Simple enough, right? Here's the catch. These were volunteers with special needs. Believe it or not, because of them, we opened right on schedule. My volunteers have been the best workers I have ever known. They have been coming every Wednesday for the past year, even during winter, spring and summer breaks.

They have learned how to do many things. Some things were a struggle for them. Even if they can't actually do the work, they can explain how it’s done. I have learned so much from them. I've learned to stay calm and keep on task. The work will get done.

All three were ON TIME every day, every week  . . . never complained. “

Senator Anderson’s office representative gave the award with all the ‘Living Independently’ staff, family and friends there to congratulate them.

David Lyons, Sean Fuentes, and Luis Sanchez continue to inspire as they volunteer for the Heartland Youthbuilt Charter School and the ‘Living Independently is for Everyone’ non-profit organization.