Vail Daily column: Teen works to make world a better place |

Vail Daily column: Teen works to make world a better place

Kathrina Guillen

Despite the plentiful array of incredible local agencies offering support to community members, it takes a sophisticated teenager to recognize the gifts she has received and to make a commitment to give back. Kathrina Guillen, Battle Mountain High School senior, has made that pledge.

When not busy scrapbooking, making jewelry or entertaining her siblings and cousins, Guillen can be found volunteering at local organizations including Bright Future Foundation, Salvation Army and Eagle River Youth Coalition. Some of her highlight events have included the Salvation Army’s food drive and holiday baskets — ensuring local families in need have a nice meal during Thanksgiving and Christmas — and the Halloween-themed Pumpkinfest in Edwards which celebrates the fall harvest with a pumpkin patch and the appropriate accoutrement. Guillen has recently signed on as a Bright Future Foundation intern and is eager to help them secure scholarship funds to continue to make a difference in the lives of local women and families.

While Guillen is encouraged that more students will get involved to make our community an even better place to live, she acknowledges her personal motivation.

“For me, community service is important, because so many organizations and people helped me when I needed it,” Kathrina said. “I’ve had a very up close and personal journey with Bright Future. They helped out my family and me when it felt like everything was falling apart and did so much to help us stand on our own two feet.”

Guillen reflects now, five years later, that she is honored to have the opportunity to be giving back to individuals who share similar stories and begin to complete the circle of giving.

Guillen encourages others to “just go out and do it” when they are considering volunteering, instead of being afraid to get involved. At the end of the day, she reminds us of Gandhi’s advice: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

Michelle Stecher is executive director of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

Support Local Journalism