A standing room only crowd of hundreds of friends new and old gathered together to mark Identity’s 20th anniversary with music, food and dance. While honoring the resilience and achievements of tens of thousands of Identity youth, Identity’s Executive Director Diego Uriburu and Board Chair Shirley Brandman reminded the crowd to never lose sight of the challenges and injustices a growing number of young people face.

Celebración 20 was also an occasion to honor some extraordinary people who have been champions for vulnerable youth and families.

Our visionary and indefatigable retiring co-founder, Candace Kattar, shared that she received much, much more over the course of 20 years than she gave to Identity. In recounting the stories of two clients, Candace reflected “What I have come to believe I have received. . . – over and over again – was ..…a feeling of awe. A mix of wonder at the incredible resiliency of that particular individual, and a kind of reverence for who they are now in their life – despite those horrific experiences.” Candace was honored with the Teresa Ríos Wright Award for Excellence in Service to Latino Youth.

Civil Rights advocate Cecilia Muñoz, presented with the Identity Justice Award by three Dreamers, said, “These are times we all double down and stand up to the forces that are trying to divide us.”

Neighbors Rising, an organization founded by neighbors to support immigrant neighbors and speak out against anti-other sentiments, was honored with the Identity Champion award. Co-founder Jeannie Engel said, “. . . we hope that one day Neighbors Rising will be the norm rather than noteworthy. We hope for a community that always demonstrates the collective capacity to rise for our neighbors.”

Celebración 20, held at the Universities of Shady Grove on September 26, raised money for Identity’s continuing work with the most at-risk, vulnerable youth in Montgomery County to get them on a path to reach their highest potential, in school, in work, and in life.

Identity thanks each and every sponsor and supporter, without whom the work would not be possible. With their friendship and support, Identity sees a bright future for Montgomery County and a real chance for every young person to find their way.

To learn more about our honorees and see a list of Celebración 20 sponsors, visit the event page.