Community Service Is All in the Family
There is no better time than now to shine a spotlight on two extraordinary 19-year-old twin sisters, Angela María and Andrea Ventura, who have dedicated the past seven years to helping and guiding their peers in the Broward community. The sisters are daughters of Angela Ventura, a highly committed professional staff member of United Way of Broward County’s Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention for more than 10 years, and are 2020 graduates of Pompano Beach High School. Together, Angela María and Andrea have been members of the Commission’s Broward Youth Coalition (BYC) since around 2013 where they have and continue to serve through various projects and assignments. As an integral part of our youth mission, the two have twice been featured presenters at BYC’s Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), as well as presenting at the Commission's first “Rising Above the Stigma” Conference in 2019.
As certified Trainers in Training for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the Ventura twins have been extremely busy this year building awareness among their peers about important topics such as leadership, mental health and making the right decisions. They also participated in several anti-drug campaigns in both Spanish and English. In October 2020, they were both youth honorees and speakers at CADCA's 22nd Annual Drug-Free Kids Campaign (DFKC) Awards Dinner. They were also nominated for and have won CADCA's 2021 Youth Advocates of the Year Award for the 31st Annual National Leadership Forum and will be receiving the award in February. These young adults will present a youth and adult session during the forum on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Youth: Broward County Case Study” in February as well.
They also co-authored a Youth Election Guide, which included information about the 2020 Presidential election, Senate races and resources to assist youth in contacting a representative about making substance misuse issues a priority. While they were working on the fact sheets and tips for youth documents for the guide, they realized the Youth Guide could be an excellent resource for Broward Youth Coalition members. Thus, they coordinated with Broward County Public Schools to have the Youth Election Guides distributed to middle and high schools throughout Broward County.
Together they have and continue to lead national and international trainings on diverse topics related to youth leadership, coalition fundamentals, youth engagement, and mental health. These two power twins have also played a significant role in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) 360 strategy outreach. DEA’s 360 strategy includes community outreach and partnership with local organizations following enforcement operations, leading to equipping and empowering the community to fight the opioid epidemic. In October 2020 during the DEA Virtual National Red Ribbon Rally, their DEA pledge videos (created in English and Spanish) were showcased to more than 8,000 participants. The eight-day rally provided young people in communities and schools across the nation the opportunity and support to pledge to live drug-free. During the rally, participants wore red ribbons and joined in community-wide anti-drug events.
Since 2019, the twins have served as mentors and volunteers at the Spanish-language Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors) program in The Village Mobile Home Park, helping organize activities in the community as well as tutoring the children and providing homework assistance. They have also authored a youth entrepreneurship and leadership article to be featured in the upcoming issue of Revista Emprendedores LATAM magazine.
Since August, the twins have served as interns for CADCA's Public Policy Team, completing various tasks and projects including the Youth Election Guide. In the spring 2021, the Ventura twins plan to continue their efforts while attending Boston University.
“We are so grateful to Angela María and Andrea Ventura for all they do for our Commission, our United Way of Broward County and our community,” said Gonzalo Cadima, Director of the Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention. “They are examples of true leadership and have inspired every person they meet with their enthusiasm and dedication. We are proud to have them in our United Way family.”
To learn more about the Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention, click here.