BACR in the Community
Exploring Community Within BACR
This month, I interviewed the amazing duo Sayra Soriano and Jazzy Gerraty who run the Marin County Tobacco Team. Sayra and Jazzy are a truly dynamic duo who have made waves in Marin County communities.
Jazzy, who started with BACR in 2017, is the Youth Program Coordinator for Marin Tobacco Programs. She runs a youth coalition of 7 high school interns doing various projects on tobacco in Marin County. In her day-to-day work, she spends time with the High School students working on projects, peer-to-peer presentations, and preparing for conferences. One of the projects the students are working on is the Restorative Justice Project and Jazzy empowers the students to run the social media platforms -Youth Advisory Council (@Yacmarin) and nicoteenfree.org.
Sayra co-supervises YAC with Jazzy, and her day-to-day is always evolving. Sayra helps decide what new projects to take on, and her work has a strong emphasis on prevention, outreach & minority populations. Her work as a health educator has her busy providing education and presentations to the youth of all ages.
With her "communication with community partners, coordinating presentations, and supporting the overall event of the presentations”, Sayra helps her community in many ways.
She develops 3+ hour workshops for parents and youth. Providing support for youth who have gotten in trouble with the law, training around substance abuse, and providing presentations in Spanish.
With these workshops, she helps parents and youth form better communication with each other. The families are given the “tools and resources to support each other”.
Sayra’s goal is to uplift minority populations. When asked what inspired her to get involved in this line of work, she answered, “I have always had an interest in public health, helping communities, and health education. I studied Public Health and was inspired by supporting communities that are in need of information and resources. [I am] inspired by being able to help.” Health is a big passion of Sayra’s and working with youth keeps her motivated.
Jazzy’s inspiration for getting involved in her line of work comes from a localized lens. In Jazzy’s words, “I have always been interested in public health. I did my undergrad in community health, and worked in substance abuse prevention in an internship with the Community Health and Prevention Department in Marin County Health. I saw this as an opportunity to work in substance and tobacco control, and have seen family members impacted. The first year that I saw the 'Vaping Epidemic' come around, I saw the need for more help in the community”.
Jazzy’s role in a long-term setting has provided her with a lot of education about policy, policy changes, and making difference.
Hard Work Pays Off
Jazzy and Sayra have recently been awarded the Elevate Youth Grant through the Sierra Youth Foundation! This impressive feat will help with three main objectives. The grant will use Prop 64 funds to work with young people who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs with these three objectives:
Hiring six young people in the community from key priority populations- primarily BIPOC. Their ideal representation on the team would include two individuals from Southern Marin, two from Northern Marin, and two members from the LGBTQIA+ community and LatinX Community. This team will work 5-7 hours a week on substance abuse in their communities.
Work on building a County Wide Youth Restorative Justice Action Team - contracted with local community-based organizations.
They will be adding Cannabis Cessation to the Tobacco Cessation projects
Jazzy and Sayra are very excited about the work to come with this new grant and will be opening a new job description for a youth coordinator to manage their first objective: the team of six young people working in their communities.
Jazzy and Sayra both have their own beautiful definitions of community. Sayra says she “sees ‘Community’ as a support system...Having a community is so important. Knowing where to turn, what kind of support one can receive and offer...We can’t do it all by ourselves, we really need each other to prosper and get through tough times."
Jazzy thinks of her community “as a protective factor for substance abuse where people come together and care about each other. It’s a community problem, not an individual problem. To address substance abuse across the county you need people from all areas of the county to come together.” Their community in Marin Tobacco Projects may look different than other BACR projects. Their youth support each other and, being the adults, Jazzy and Sayra talk as a team and always do their best to support one another. They make sure they take care of each other. “Everyone needs help at some point,” Jazzy said. They believe it is important to be able to self-care and to talk about self-care openly.