Ms. Valaree Garcia, an exemplary Occupational Therapy Assistant student at Stanbridge University, has consistently shown her steadfast commitment to establishing positive social change, and it is our honor to nominate her for the 2019 Newman Civic Fellowship. Ms. Garcia is actively involved in her community as she serves and helps less fortunate children and elderly. For the past year, with assistance from the Stanbridge University community, Ms. Garcia has led monthly feeding events for over two hundred homeless individuals in Costa Mesa, California, which includes planning, logistics, transportation, and staffing for the event. Her other community engagement projects include volunteer work with Life Rolls On, where she has assisted with adaptive surf events, providing meaningful experiences for individuals with varying disabilities, and building a Little Free Library for a low-income senior community. Ms. Garcia is currently working with the West LA Veteran Affairs campus as an Occupational Therapy Volunteer, providing vital assistance with patient transportation, meal delivery, and physical hygiene for the elderly.
Over the years, I have challenged myself to be the best leader I can be. By applying my service-leadership skills in collaboration with the principles of occupational therapy, I believe I can help transform the local and global community. Recognizing the needs of the elderly, homeless, and individuals with disabilities in California, I am committed to serving the most vulnerable in our community, at low-income medical clinics, in public parks, and with Life Rolls On, where I volunteered to facilitate adaptive surfing and skate camps. Through Stanbridge University’s outREACH program, I have served as coordinator for over twelve months in the multi-year homeless feeding project at the city of Costa Mesa’s Lighthouse Ministries. I currently work with West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs as an Occupational Therapy Volunteer, helping veterans facing PTSD and other challenges. As an executive board member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association of Stanbridge (SOTAS), I helped plan, fundraise for, and install a Little Free Library at a local senior living center, with the goal to provide community and fellowship for the elderly in a low-income area. I am also a California and US Student Delegate through the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) as well as the Assembly Student Delegate (ASD) Representative for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for Stanbridge University.