by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography


Debbie and Jay Nielsen always knew they wanted to raise their family in Poway. “We love the small-town atmosphere here,” said Debbie. “We knew we would eventually have kids and we wanted the opportunity to send them to schools with the great reputation of the Poway Unified School District.” Today, they reside in the Garden Road area with their two children, twins Garrett and Kayla (age 11). “We have good friends throughout the area,” said Debbie. “There are lots of kids around all the time.” And with two active kids of their own, the Nielsens are focused on staying involved, giving back, and having lots of fun along the way.

Garrett and Kayla – who are 5th graders at Garden Road Elementary – are involved in many activities. Kayla is a Girl Scout, plays the piano, and is a talented ballet dancer. “Dance is really her passion,” explained Debbie. “This year she will perform in The Nutcracker for the tenth time.”

Garrett is an avid soccer player and plays the piano. “He is looking forward to taking up the guitar as well,” added Debbie. Garrett is also a Cub Scout. “[He] really loves the experiences of being a scout,” Debbie noted. “Every year Garrett works with Cub Scout Pack 617 to place an American Flag at the graveside of soldiers on Memorial Day. It has become a family tradition that we love.”


So much so that the whole family is now involved with the Scouts. Debbie has been Secretary of Pack 617 for the past couple years and Jay has held the role of Cubmaster.

But Debbie and Jay’s volunteer work doesn’t end with the Scouts. Jay has also lent his time to READ San Diego, a free literacy instruction service for adults, for which he has been given an award for his efforts. He has also volunteered for the Garden Road Elementary School Foundation, an organization that Debbie helped to establish. “With the help of a few we were able to make great strides in creating a successful Foundation,” shared Debbie. Debbie has also donated her hair to the charity Locks of Love and was recognized by the City of Poway for her assistance in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire.

In their downtime, the Nielsens enjoy camping and celebrating the holidays. “We love holidays,” explained Debbie. “We decorate our home for just about each one. But we go big for Halloween and Christmas. It is so much fun!”

Parents: Jay and Debbie Nielsen
Children: Kayla and Garrett Nielsen (11, Garden Road Elementary, 5th grade)
Community: Garden Road since 1998
Parents’ Hometowns: Jay – Northridge, CA; Debbie – Monterey Park, CA
Parents’ Occupations: Jay – Self-employed; Debbie – Health Services Technician, Midland Elementary School
Pets: On July 29 our dog of 15 years died. She was our baby. Her name was Maddie. She was a West Highland White Terrier (Westie).
Favorite Local Spots: Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, Sycamore Canyon, Old Poway Park, Candy Cane Lane at Christmas, Poway High on 4th of July, Hamburger Factory, In-N-Out