My name is Dana Annemarie Zapanta and I am a student at Palomar College as a Business Administration Major. I plan on transferring to a four-year university in the 2018 Fall semester. I was born in Burbank, California, but moved to San Diego when I was nine years old. Seven years ago, I became very involved with Pro Kids | The First Tee of San Diego, which is another nonprofit organization in City Heights. Their mission is to challenge youth to excel in life by promoting character development, life skills, and values through education and golf. This organization has helped me find my voice and grow as a woman. They continue to support me in everything I do on and off the golf course. Pro Kids is like a second family to me and it is my home away from home. Being able to learn and be part of another nonprofit like City Heights Coffee House is an incredible honor.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I had lost my older brother Joshua to suicide. He was just eighteen years old when he took his life. At first, I thought I was dreaming but this was not the case. I felt numb and it felt like walls were closing in on me. I was in denial for the longest time because in my heart, I didn’t want to believe that my brother had left me. Losing him was the most difficult thing my family and I had to face. I didn’t just lose my brother, I had lost my best friend. He was always someone who I had looked up to and who I had confided in because we were so close. I was the last person he had texted before he ended his life, which meant a great deal to me. He was the type of person who lit up the room with his infectious smile and I know you would find him at any Filipino party hogging the karaoke machine. The memories I had made with my brother will always have a special place in my heart. I am able to celebrate his life through involving myself in things that enable me to help others.
My way of grieving for the loss of my brother was through sharing his story and raising awareness on suicide prevention at different local high schools, parishes, and nonprofit organizations. I wanted to be able to continue to impact many lives just like my brother and continue his legacy. Losing my brother was so hard, but I didn’t let his death stop me from doing what I was called to do. With the help and support from Pro Kids | The First Tee of San Diego and Toastmasters International, I know I am called to continue to share my brother’s story and raise awareness on suicide prevention because no matter how sensitive the subject is, people still need to be informed because it is constantly happening. Becoming an inspirational speaker and raising awareness on suicide prevention is the legacy I plan on doing for my brother. I don’t want anyone to have to go through the pain and tragedy that my family and I had to endure because we did not know that my brother was suicidal. It is always the people you least expect who could be struggling the most. I want to continue to be the voice for the voiceless because there is always hope for the hopeless. I want to make people more aware that their lives matter.
Other than being a huge advocate for suicide prevention, I am also an avid golfer, hiker, singer, and a coffee connoisseur. If you cannot find me on the golf course, you can definitely find me hiking up some local trail in San Diego. I love immersing myself in nature, especially when I am in the presence of my family and friends because the more the merrier, During my free time, I also love discovering every nook and cranny of San Diego by trying every breakfast and coffee place in town. This led me to find City Heights Coffee House. If you ever need a cup of coffee and a casual conversation, I’m your gal! Any friend of coffee is a friend of mine!