Year in the Life Profiles


Nia is a 17 year old senior at DeAnza High School, who is gearing up to graduate and attend Laney College in the fall! She first attended summer camp with YES when she was nine years old. Nia and her younger siblings have gone to summer camp with YES through the years.

When the Camp-to-Community (C2C) program at YES was gaining momentum and she was 14, Nia started attending C2C programming, and challenged herself by participating on one of YES’s first Urban Backpacking trips in Wildcat Canyon and Tilden Regional Parks. Through high school she has participated in both C2C and Summer Camp with YES, and she joined the C2C Youth Engagement Team in 2015 to practice leadership and research health and wellness issues with her peers in the community.

As Nia prepares to progress along her path from high school into college, she is also progressing into new leadership roles at YES! Nia is currently participating in YES’s new Youth Fellowship, where she is working to set and attain goals for her education, career path, and health. Nia is also currently on a path to become YES’s third Peer Advocate (starting in May 2016), where she will serve as a mentor for younger C2C leaders, and help to plan and lead C2C activities.


Jonathan is 10 years old and a fourth grader at Ford Elementary School. He attended Family Camp through a YSB referral in 2014. That summer Jonathan wasn't prepared to go to summer camp, but with guidance from YES staff, he tried again the following year.

With encouragement from YES staff and followup communications with his family, Jonathan and his two sisters attended Camp Loma Mar for the first time the summer of 2015. Since their summer camp experience, Jonathan’s mom has been asking for other opportunities for her children to be involved with us.

In 2016 Jonathan attended our first Camp Day with St. Dorothy’s Rest and had the opportunity to fish, hike and be with other camp peers. In February Jonathan also attended our first Winter Camp and is excited to return to Loma Mar this summer!


Cristal Banagan, YES parent and Wellness Navigator, has been a part of YES's year-round adult leadership Wellness Program for two years. Cristal’s commitment and passion to bring health and wellness resources to her community is the epitome of why the YES Wellness Program exists.

In 2015, Cristal offered diabetes workshops as a "Health Promoter", led 18 Reasons Cooking Classes, and organized weekly walks in nature with her peers.

Mother of three young children, Cristal home schools her two older girls, and has also started her own nonprofit, Learning Out Loud Educational Community, with the goal of promoting education and social justice in historically under-served communities like Richmond. Through LOL, she has established 10 little free libraries throughout Richmond in community gardens and parks, and she has also been instrumental in organizing and providing literacy coaches at Verde Elementary School in North Richmond.

Cristal states, “I know that education is the key that unlocks the future, and I want that for every person.”

In 2016, Cristal is excited to join our adult YES Fellowship because she knows it will bring her even closer to achieving her personal health and wellness goals and give her the strength and tools to continue serving the Richmond community.