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Embracing Courage and Authenticity: Celebrating Crystal Cardenas's Impact on Our Nonprofit Family this Holiday Season

Hey friends,

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself reflecting on a song that's become a kind of anthem for me—Blake Shelton's "Home." Its lyrics capture a sentiment that resonated deeply with me for years:

"May be surrounded by a million people I still feel all alone, I wanna go home"

During those times, I searched for that elusive feeling of "home" and found the holidays particularly challenging. I dreaded the festivities, putting on a facade of happiness while grappling with inner turmoil.

For those who know me, you're familiar with my outgoing, charismatic exterior. Yet, behind that mask, I battled panic attacks, cried daily in private, and felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I didn't share my struggles because I didn't want to burden others or risk being rejected if they saw the real me.

If you're suffering in silence, please know you're not alone. Opening up about my true emotions was both liberating and terrifying. I lost some friends, but I gained new ones who embraced the authentic me, complexities and all.

To those who generally find joy in the season, take a moment to check on those around you. Reach out to friends or family members who might be facing challenges—grief, illness, or just navigating a tough time. Sometimes, a genuine inquiry can make a world of difference.

After years of seeking, I've found my "home." Life is still challenging, but with a supportive circle, I feel grateful. Here's to a holiday season surrounded by those who truly care and love you!

Warm wishes,

Crystal Cardenas, Program Director