20 Under 40: Julia Luciano changes lives one day at a time
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Julia Luciano left rural Routt County at 18, she thought she’d never look back. Now at 27 years old, she’s back in the Yampa Valley and changing lives one day at a time.
“Growing up in South Routt, it was such a small community and everyone knew everything about you. It was so rural, and I thought I wanted big city life,” Luciano said.
Fortunately for the community, Luciano did come back after honing her expertise in humanity in both college and employment in Fort Collins, working with children, literacy, families in crisis as well as victim advocacy.
She’s now the program manager at Partners in Routt County where she matches adult mentors with children in need.
“I can’t say enough of her and how skilled and neatly she fits this work,” said Partners Executive Director Michelle Petix. “Parents are giving us their kids, and that’s a pretty scary thing for them… and she manages the whole program.”
Partners in Routt County helps children who are considered at-risk or have life challenges and then partners them with a volunteer mentor or “senior partner.” Petix said Luciano has a gift for pairing mentors and kids, all while coordinating group activities and senior partner training.
“The youth, parents and mentors that Julia works with have all commented on her welcoming and caring approach,” Petix said.
Friend Peter Daly grew up with Luciano and partnered with her during a charity event for a sexual assault advocacy group when she worked in Fort Collins.
Name: Julia Luciano
Profession: Program manager for Partners of Routt County’s community-based mentoring program
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in human development and family studies, Colorado State University
“She has an intuitive nature about people. It’s not just a job for her — she likes to get out into the community and get others involved,” Daly said.
Indeed, Luciano spends her spare time volunteering for several organizations including Advocates of Routt County where she mans a crisis hotline for domestic and sexual violence.
“Julia has an amazing spirit and wants to help others, especially youth,” said Advocates Executive Director Lisel Petis.
In an environment where children’s lives can be a mess, Luciano admits she doesn’t always leave her work mentally after going home.
“I consider what I do here with kids as part of my life every day,” Luciano said. “It can get hard, but we get a lot of happy stories too … with kids who have these amazing families and mentors that dedicate their time and passion for them.”
Luciano also enjoys volunteering with her own junior partner, a 9-year-old girl.
“We have a back-to-school barbecue coming up and a cake decorating class,” Luciano said. “And in the winter, we’ll go snowmobiling.”
When not outside hiking or skiing, Luciano also volunteers for Girls on the Run, a running program for elementary to middle school girls.
“We meet twice a week for running while incorporating life skills like friendship, self-esteem and healthy decision making,” said Luciano.
Luciano spends her spare time baking with her junior partner, fly-fishing with her dad and visiting with her mom and brothers, all of whom still live in South Routt County. She’s also antsy for ski season.
“Now I can appreciate all the experiences I had growing up that I didn’t appreciate at the time,” she said.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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