Get to know Gina!

I have the pleasure of being a wife and mother of two wonderful boys. I live in Southeast San Diego and am a native San Diegan.  Some of my favorite things to do with my family include going on road trips, camping and visiting new places.  Most recently, I spent my time as a family and portrait photographer for the past 3 years and have started several small business ventures over the past 8 years.  

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I was introduced to UrbanLife in 2013 when my husband, Jose Luis Vallejo, (current Interim Executive Director) joined staff.  Early on, I volunteered as often as possible and became very engaged with several UrbanLife initiatives.  I was involved with UrbanLife’s after-school tutoring program, UCAN, for the first two years and helped launch UrbanMic Night at the Southeast farm site.  Every Friday we would gather with students and prepare a safe space for youth expression and community-building where students were encouraged to showcase their talents through song, spoken word, poetry, and dance.

In September 2018, former Executive Director, Sarah Carter asked me to join staff to support the efforts of UrbanLife Café.  I was honored and excited to be part of the team.  It has been an amazing experience to engage with students every day and see them flourish and grow within the UrbanLife Cafe Program.  

 The UrbanLife Café curriculum is comprised of two key components. The job training aspect of the program provides students the skills and tools they need to for advancement at their next job opportunity. Our students learn the essentials of being a barista, providing great customer service as well as learning a variety of recipes and becoming proficient at prepping and making our food menu items. They understand how to operate a POS system and the responsibilities of managing a cash register, maintaining their work areas clean, stocking and keeping inventory.   

 The second part of the program consists of character/leadership development training focused on 5 personal development areas, communication, professionalism, personal accountability, team work and problem solving.  I strongly believe that the job of a good leader is to polish and get the best out of others by demonstrating specific behaviors, attitudes, and skills which can be used to inspire and guide.  Our objective at UrbanLife Café is to ensure our students embark on a life-long journey of development so that they may achieve their full potential.  Throughout our leadership development courses, we reference Biblical scripture to teach on each of the different personal development areas we are focusing on.  Most importantly, we strive to demonstrate the love of God and to practice the fruits of the Spirit wherever we go and whatever we do.

I am excited and looking forward to UrbanLife’s future.I hope to create everlasting friendships with staff, students and UrbanLife supporters so that we may work together to see a restored neighborhood that reflects the peace and love of Christ. Shalom!