Q & A with Mary Grace, Friday Night Live Program Coordinator

Mary Grace (middle in this picture, wearing a Friday Night Live tee shirt) is AACI Friday Nights Live (FNL)’s Program Coordinator. FNL is a drug & alcohol prevention program providing youth with fun activities and opportunities to lead projects that actively engage their peers, family members and community members in reducing underage drinking and the use of drugs. The FNL team reaches out to 9 middle schools and 5 high schools throughout Santa Clara County and has over 100 regular participants.

Q: What do you like most about your position?

A: I love being able to interact with the community and being helpful to them. In addition to learning about the risks alcohol and drugs represent, we also train youth for leadership and build their public speaking skills. The program definitely helps them build their personality, interpersonal, and leadership skills.They become more engaged and learn to communicate with policy makers so that they are able to speak their mind and voices.

Q: Would you say the program changes youth’s lives?

A: Yes! I remember one of our students who was very shy when he first started the program. He is now part of some other AACI youth programs and has become very involved after learning how to speak in public. He has definitely changed for the best: he is a lot more confident and is taking on a lot of responsibilities.

Q: Why is FNL important and how does it impact the community?

A: We connect FNL to their community where they are able to create projects relating to alcohol and other drug issues. FNL is able to impact the community by informing their audience and changing their local ordinance by involving themselves with the city and policymakers to make a change.

Q: What’s your best memory with FNL?

A: When I was first hired, I went with our program’s participants to the Youth Traffic Safety Summit in Anaheim where counties from all over the state were able to present their projects and learn interesting prevention facts about drugs and alcohol. Our MIGS (Members in Good Standing) chapter at Andrew Hill High School was able to present their project on the Lee Law where they were able to work on changing their local ordinance relating to alcohol advertising and selling alcohol to minors at nearby liquor stores. Their project was applied to the OTS (Office of Traffic Safety) grant where they were able to receive $5,000 to the FNL program and it was an experience of a life time.  

Q: This year’s theme for Better Together (AACI’s Annual Fundraiser) is dreams. What’s your dream for yourself?

A: My personal dream is to pursue a career in the public health sector, to continue prevention work by helping the community. My dream is to always be involved to in the community to help others succeed.

Q: What’s your dream for the community?

A: I dream to be able to provide the community with all the resources they need to help themselves, their family and loved ones. It is especially important right now during these tough times because I want the community to be able to access the needs for themselves and for their family.

Q: What advice would you give to youth if they have trouble dreaming?

A: Don’t ever give up on your dreams, every person’s dreams tend to change with time. I know that when I was a youth I didn’t really know what I was going to be or what I was doing. But overtime you will be able to explore and dream because that is a part of growing and molding yourself into who you are. It’s never too late to dream!

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: I like to hike and attend kickboxing classes, another hobby of mine is to travel around the world to explore and learn about cultures.


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