The recipients of this year’s prestigious Healthcare Heroes awards, Jennifer Seitel and Deisy Salas, were honored at the annual Community Collaborative Breakfast, sponsored by the Fallbrook Healthcare District, on Jan. 26 at Fallbrook Public Utility District.
Jennifer Seitel was recognized for her dedication in educating young people by coordinating the K-12 Think First program and personally speaking to youth at assemblies about making good decisions in order to avoid life-impacting debilitating injuries.
She emphasizes the importance of seat belts, car seats, helmets for bike riders, and advises children of the life-changing events associated with the use of alcohol and drugs. She shares her message with approximately 6,000 youth each year. The Think First program is also supported by North County Fire Protection District and other community volunteers.
Seitel, who survived a tragic automobile accident at the age of 16, was left paralyzed from the neck down. Through sheer will and determination, she now walks with the assistance of canes.
“She exemplifies courage and encourages those she teaches and works with,” said Fallbrook Healthcare District board members. “She is a remarkable human being.”
Deisy Salas, a high school senior, was honored as a healthcare hero for her volunteerism, commitment and consistency to numerous endeavors that focus on the health and wellbeing of members of the community.
Salas, who began getting involved in community projects through the AVID program at Fallbrook High School, has volunteered her time with the Fallbrook Youth Prevention Group (a program of North Inland Community Prevention Program that focuses on educating youth about the dangers of alcohol use), the Fallbrook Food Pantry (which provides food for the hungry), and the GANAS (Guide, Advise, Nurture and Support) mentoring program for at-risk youth (affiliated with the Fallbrook Citizens’ Crime Prevention Committee). She has also volunteered her time to the Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation.
“As a spokesperson, volunteer and positive example, [Deisy] approaches her task with conviction and courage,” said program coordinators. “We encourage her and youth like her to know that this community stands behind her with pride and encouragement.”
According to Fallbrook Healthcare District administrator Vi Dupre, the Healthcare Hero awards are meant “for those who possess qualities of selflessness, dedication and perseverance, and who demonstrate extraordinary service to foster the health and well-being of the people of the Fallbrook community.” The individuals are nominated, reviewed, and recommended to the Fallbrook Healthcare District by people of the community who are witness to their service.
At the event, special recognition was also given to the Save Our Southwest Hills (SOS) organization, “for its steadfast courage and fortitude in their quest to stop the Liberty quarry – to preserve the land, water, air, and wildlife and to protect the health and well-being of the people of this generation and those to come.”
The eight-year battle by opponents of the quarry ended in 2012 when the Pechanga Tribe purchased the land it was to be constructed on.