We are very proud of Identity staff who were once clients. They are an inspiration to their colleagues, but also to the community. These are some of their stories.

In 2001, Jose Rosario participated in Identity’s After School Program. He had not had a birthday celebration since he was three years old. Executive Director Diego Uriburu not only made sure to throw him a party that year, but also helped Jose set high expectations for his future. Now, as Identity’s Program Data and Facilities Manager, Jose is proud to be able to help others the way he was helped.

“Someone in this country is interested in my needs. I’m not alone!” Those were Diana Silva’s first thoughts after connecting with Identity as a parent of two children in after-school programs. Now an Identity Case Manager, Diana is proud “to be able to serve people that at some point are struggling with any situation. You can help someone by just listening carefully and connecting with resources or just being there for them.”

“I have never felt so heard,” says Identity’s Bilingual Mental Health Therapist, Stefanny Sarich, remembering her time as a client. When she opened up to an after-school facilitator about her abusive home life, she felt validated. “I wanted to be the supportive person I had while I was a participant.”

As a client, Majo Lizarzaburu sometimes skipped school, only to show up for the Identity program afterwards. Her facilitator insisted that she attend both and encouraged her to become a Peer Educator. Today, as one of Identity’s Program Coordinators, Majo is proud to help kids reach their goals.

A high school dropout, he was told that his prospects weren’t good. His Identity family believed in him. “The day I heard I had passed all my GED tests, I cried tears of joy.” Jonathan Henriquez says. Today he’s an Identity Program Facilitator and says, “the past year has been the best and most fulfilling year of my life.”

When Tatiana Murillo came to the U.S. at age 11, she took on the responsibilities of an adult. Identity’s programs gave her the chance to be a kid again. Now, as Identity’s Director of Finance, Tatiana says that helping younger generations “makes my heart full.”

In 2001, Angel Varela’s experience in the LGBTQ Program made him feel welcomed in a way that he had not felt before. “I was treated like a human being,” he says. Now, Angel is proud to be an Identity Case Manager who helps LGBTQ and other clients meet their basic needs in times of crisis.

At an Identity retreat, a fellow client’s life story changed Kary Enriquez. “I could not believe what others actually go through,” she says. As a Program Facilitator at the Watkins Mill High School Wellness Center, Kary is a role model who brings this early lesson about compassion to her students.

In middle school, former client Lesly Alvarado fell in love with Identity. She returned to become a Program Facilitator. For Lesly, it’s amazing to work at an organization where “you can make a difference in someone’s life just by being yourself.”

During high school, former client Sofia Cabral experienced a Be Yourself weekend retreat, with friends and staff. Now as an Identity Program Facilitator, Sofia says, “The Identity community is exactly how I remember it. All a family, with responsibilities, and everyone with a helping hand.”

Maribel Lopez remembers how Program Director Carolina Camacho made her feel “like family” in 2012 when her teenage daughter joined an Identity program. A year later, Maribel became an employee and is now working to help other parents during the pandemic with safety net support. “I am very blessed by my work.”

As a volunteer at Identity’s overnight retreats, Karla Ponce felt a positive energy. “Those were usually emotionally intense, but at the same time brought everyone together.” Seeing the impact, she returned as an employee, now in Finance. “I wanted to be part of the change.”

As an Identity client, Lisette Dardon was inspired by Executive Director Diego Uriburu’s generosity of spirit and his belief in her leadership qualities. Lisette is now leading the Identity-run Wellness Center at Watkins Mill High School as Program Manager.

When Bryan Hernandez was an Identity client, his program facilitator Majo, like family, “did more for me than she was supposed to.” Now, as one of Identity’s case management assistants, Bryan’s view of the organization when he was a client still stands as an employee: it’s “a safe atmosphere and a rewarding job.”

Since middle school, Rolando Quintanilla says he has “always kept Identity very close.” Having experienced the positive impact on his own family, Rolando feels passionate about bringing that same sense of purpose and belonging to others as Identity’s new Recreation Assistant.