Nashville CARES Volunteer Wins Youth Volunteer Of The Year

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nashville CARES Volunteer Wins Youth Volunteer Of The Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 22, 2011) – Announced at the Mary Catherine Strobel Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 21, 2011,  Nashville CARES nominee Itzel Gonzalez was honored as the Youth Volunteer of the Year.

Itzel Gonzalez works to save the lives of young people one conversation at a time.  She is committed to breaking down the Hispanic Community’s barriers to health education, especially sexual health.

After completing Developing Community Leaders, a yearlong leadership course at schoo  , she also fulfilled more than 30 hours of certification training as a teen peer educator through the Nashville CARES Survivor Club. Survivor Club is offered in partnership with Alignment Nashville, and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). CARES, Alignment and MNPS partner to develop new, progressive ways for young people to take more active roles in their futures by identifying community challenges, creating unique solutions and effecting positive change for their Nashville, school and local communities.

Once she was certified, Itzel got to work talking with teens, both in their native language and in English, about the sensitive subjects of sex, sexuality, and safety.  To date, Itzel has spent more than 75 hours talking with other teens about making healthy decisions and accessing community health resources.

Last fall she was instrumental in organizing the school-wide Glencliff Health Fair, a successful outreach event that connected more than 250 people to vital health resources.  It was one of the first HIV Counseling and Testing Services events held in association with the Metro Nashville Public School system.

Itzel also organized an event at a teen club during Halloween that focused on motivating her peers to abstain from sex, practice safer sex, and/or get testing for HIV.  Thanks to Itzel’s skill and enthusiasm, this event reached more than 400 youth in the Antioch area.  Itzel is always strategic in her planning to ensure that critical information is effectively communicated to her audience. She serves selflessly and confidently, and her efforts are bringing positive changes to our community.

Nashville CARES relies on support from the local community to provide services to those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information about how you can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS please visit all (615) 259-4866.

About Nashville CARES: Nashville CARES is Tennessee’s largest HIV/AIDS organization. Each year, CARES educates 50,000 adults and youth to prevent new HIV infections, provides 12,000 HIV tests, and offers comprehensive support to 2,400 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.  All services are available without charge throughout 17 Middle Tennessee counties.

About Alignment Nashville:  (AN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization with the mission to align community organizations and resources so that their coordinated support of Nashville’s youth has a positive impact on public school success, children’s health, and the success of our community as a whole. AN was developed to ensure all the services children need are provided to them in an effective and efficient way that complements their education, health and well-being, and the goals of the public schools. Through community-wide collaboration among schools, non-profits, businesses, and the public sector, AN creates the synergy necessary for sustained improvement in public education and children’s health.

About Metro Schools: Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools serve more than 76,000 students with the goal of being the first choice for families in Nashville and Davidson County. The governing body for MNPS is the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Board of Public Education, a nine-member group elected by residents of Metropolitan Nashville. For more information, please visit

Through a special partnership between Hands On Nashville and Volunteer Tennessee, Strobel Award recipients in the Youth and Community Impact categories will represent their respective counties at the Governor’s Star Awards, which recognizes an outstanding youth and adult volunteer from each county.  Itzel will represent Davidson County as its outstanding youth volunteer.