Over the past 5 years, the Youth and Family Services Connections 2020 program has supported under-resourced young adults' transition to self-sufficiency through skill development, subsidized internships, and relationship building. Every day, the program has strived to live out its name and connect young people to what they need most: healthy, supportive relationships. We have witnessed firsthand the power of relationships and how they serve as the foundation for growth and stability for transition-age youth. The letter below is one example of just how powerful relationship building is for transition-age youth to thrive. 

Dear YMCA Connections 2020 Staff, 


Happy Holidays! 


Thank you for all your support in completing the YMCA Connections 2020 program and the Youth Employment Program (YEP). I am so grateful to have the opportunity to grow personally and professionally over the last year, especially as I navigated the grief of losing my grandfather and undergoing a distal femoral osteotomy to realign my leg structure. 

During my time as a participant I learned key skills in emotional wellness that I still continue to practice such as mindfulness and emotional awareness which will continue to help me as I enter the workforce. Completing the YEP hiring process helped prepare me for future job applications by enhancing my resume, developing my interviewing skills, and learning the needed documentation to become an official employee. As a Community Affairs Intern for the COVID-19 Prevention Network Study at the UC San Diego Antiviral Research Center I was able to combine my passion for science education and community health by facilitating research presentations on the COVID-19 Clinical Trials in San Diego to local community leaders, faith institutions, and non- profit organizations. As well as synthesize research findings, provide feedback on advertisements, and gather comments on attitudes towards the vaccine. This amazing internship position would not have not been possible without all of your support of young adults like me. 


The skills I have learned from the program even helped me to create a research proposal focused on combating Food Insecurity in San Diego that I was able to present at the UC Davis Health Symposium and be named a UC San Diego Triton Research and Experimental Learning Scholar (TRELS) for the new academic quarter in January. 

I will be graduating in March of 2021 with my degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UC San Diego and applying to medical school that June. The YEP strengthened my intentions to apply to medical school by assisting me in saving money to enroll in a MCAT Test Prep Course and prepare for the expensive cost of medical school applications.


Thank you again for all the great work you all have done. 


Wishing you all the best, 

Anamaria A.

University of California, San Diego 

John Muir College | 2021

To read more about the impact that the Connections 2020 program had on youth during its 5-year run, read Reflections on the Connections 2020 Program by program director Nick DeVico.