Jubilee Reach’s Festival of Trees is an annual fundraising event. This year’s will be held Nov. 11. File photo

Former student shares how Bellevue’s Jubilee Reach provided help

Annual fundraiser is set for Nov. 11

When Jeyma Garcia attended Highland Middle School, she was quiet, reserved and very lonely and depressed.

Having come to the United States from Mexico during the 2009-10 school year, English was her second language and she found it hard to open up and make real friends.

“I didn’t care about myself or my body or anything,” Garcia recalled. “Sometimes I wouldn’t eat and I would hurt myself.”

But instead of exhibiting typical signs that she needed help – having outbursts in class or getting in trouble – she kept to herself, got good grades and let her depression build up.

That is, until Jubilee Reach’s site coach Carlos Willcuts became someone she could talk to.

Willcuts was part of the REACH program, which is comprised of hundreds of volunteers who help about 2,000 students in the Bellevue School District through after-school sports and clubs.

“It was kind of like he was the first positive adult in my life that I could relate to,” Garcia said of Willcuts. “We would talk in Spanish. He understood.”

Now, Garcia is a site coach with the REACH program at Odle Middle School and has been for four years. She plans to share her story at Jubilee Reach’s fourth annual Festival of Trees fundraising event, which will be held Nov. 11 at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

During the event, 10 decorated trees will be auctioned and a special Festival of Trees glassybaby candle holder will be sold for $75, with $25 going toward Jubilee Reach. The organization expects 800 to attend the Festival of Trees, “premier Christmas Holiday gala.”

Since Garcia’s been a coach, she strives to always share her knowledge, passion and empathy with students she helps because she knows the “struggle is real.”

“I think it’s great because there’s people that genuinely care about the kids,” Garcia said of the program, noting that it’s not just in an academic. “… We want the kids to be happy and be happy with themselves.”

Garcia said she doesn’t know where she would be now if she hadn’t had help from her site coach when she was 13 years old. But she does know what she wants to do in her future because of the program.

“My dream is to become a counselor,” she said.

Garcia is currently a junior at the University of Washington.

To learn more about Festival of Trees or the Jubilee Reach program, visit www.jubileereach.org.

When Jeyma Garcia attended Highland Middle School, she was quiet, reserved and very lonely and depressed. Having come to the United States from Mexico during the 2009-10 school year, English was her second language and she found it hard to open up and make real friends. “I didn’t care about myself or my body or […]

More in Life

The Most Merry Parades and Parties Around Puget Sound

Lights, boats, and Santas run amok!

Lvl Up Sprites replace pixels with beads. Courtesy of GeekCraft Expo
The Holiday Shopping Guide to Unique Gifts and Memorable Moments

Bazzars, pop-ups, and retail events from Seattle to Bellevue and beyond.

The third annual Historic Shell Holiday Shop opens on Nov. 24 at the Historic Shell Station in Issaquah. Courtesy photo
The Gas Station That Turned Into a Holiday Shopping Destination

A holiday pop-up shop filled with heart and handmade gifts.

The Season’s Best Performances, Plays, and Nutcrackers

Holiday stories from stages in Bellevue, Seattle, and throughout King County.

Garden delights with over half million dazzling lights in Bellevue

The well-lit habitat attracts all kinds of creatures.

Bellevue-based Friends of Granger nonprofit celebrates 14th year of giving

Year after year, Joan Wallace emails “100 of her closest friends” around… Continue reading

Thanksgiving insights from W Bellevue’s chef

Thanksgiving is upon us. Check out this Q&A with W Bellevue’s Chef… Continue reading

Northwest Wine: Northwest rosés ideal for holidays

One of our favorite food-pairing wines is rosé because of the flavors… Continue reading

Sammamish Good Health to host weekly comedy shows to say ‘thank you and goodbye’

Huge lineup: Andrew Rivers, Kermet Apio, Geoff Lott confirmed

Bellevue Magic Season returns for 21st year

Expanded Magic Season Ice Arena moves back to Bellevue Downtown Park

‘Quilters’ the musical set for Nov. 3-4 in Bellevue

Forest Ridge will present “Quilters,” the musical at 7 p.m. on Nov.… Continue reading