How Did We Get Here?
Why are so many of our inner city youth ending up in gangs, incarcerated, on probation, dropping out of school, or worse?
To help understand how and why certain choices and opportunities (or lack thereof) are presented to marginalized youth in Los Angeles and around the country today, we are suggesting some reading and videos below.
Our wish is to help those more fortunate understand why our program works. To encourage understanding and compassion for youth who have not been presented with opportunity and hope. And to encourage donations to help make our programs available to more young people aged 14-25 who need our services.
Born in South Los Angeles, Tim's first encounter with violence happened at 6 years old. His mother's best friend across the street had a son named George who was Tim's friend. George's mom and her boyfriend got in a domestic dispute, and the boyfriend killed George. This was the first time Tim remembered feeling that if he could kill someone and get away with it, he would have liked to do it to that man that killed George. Tim had many more encounters with violence before he even turned 18. At 12, two classmates were killed by police and soon after that a school friend died during a game of Russian roulette. Surrounded by a gang environment, violence became commonplace. Tim himself was shot at 17 during an argument and once he realized he wasn't going to die, his adjustment to violence became concretized...it became a way of life. He survived more shootings, stabbings, prison and the worst gang war in the history of California. Today, he reflects upon how the authorities (police, teachers, school counselors) validated his bad behavior by highlighting it and criminalizing him at an early age. They labeled him a criminal and a gang member. There was no diversion, no counseling him out of the gang life. Once he was released from prison in 2015 he has dedicated his time to mentoring youth who remind him of his younger self. He peer counsels youth through trauma and helps them learn conflict resolution. He wants teachers and law enforcement to see more than a kid with bad behavior. He wants the system to stop being dream killers and start helping youth dream bigger.
Suggested Readings and Viewings
Did you know?
To divert a youth through restorative justive and youth diversion programs, the average annual cost can be as low as $4,000- less than half-of-one-percent of the $1 million annual cost to incarcerate the same youth!