The Spaces In-Between

By on Dec 14, 2016 in Blog |

Today, I sat in a funeral home, once again choking back tears because another young life was lost to street violence. As I looked around the packed house at all the young faces mourning the loss of their friend, I felt heartsick. Sitting there, I had an overwhelming desire to stand up and take them back with us to the Center so we can love them well and invest in their lives. The minister was thundering from the front for the youngsters to slow down, and my feelings of desperation grew. Is this the future these kids have to look forward to? Lives marked by trauma, violence, and death?   This past week at the Center, a group of kids decorated our Christmas tree, laughing and delighted as they hung beautiful donated ornaments. These are kids we’ve known for years and helped through school and the juvenile justice system––kids who have fought to reclaim their lives and break the cycles of violence and isolation we see on a daily basis. They show up at the Center week after week for connection, dinner, to tell their stories through music and video, and to dream about a different kind of future.   The internet and television have been filled with messages of gloom and despair. Hopelessness is plentiful and yet we have hope because of our work inside of the juvenile lock-up facilities featured in the following video. Creating space to Record, Reconnect and Restore young offenders is breaking the cycle of destruction and devastation.    Another reason we are even more hopeful is displayed in this original work by one of our young artists, Courage, who is sharing about his experience growing up in the city and trying to use art as a weapon against violence.    Good things are happening everyday.  I am trying to stay open to look in the “spaces in-between” for the joy that certainly exists.  Friday night we will be celebrating with over 100 young people who are also looking in the spaces in-between for  joy. They are part of my joy.   This December we invite you to dream with us and our youth for a new year filled with opportunity and hope. Your donation...

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The Place Between Weeping and Wonder

By on Apr 5, 2016 in Blog |

  I find myself living in the place between weeping and wonder these days. This season of political debates and campaigns has been disheartening. The ugliness that has  been displayed and worse, applauded by many is heartbreaking. I find myself watching in open mouthed dismay. I think I was angry once, but the anger has given way to deep sadness. Watching would-be world leaders say cruel and hateful comments and then hearing them defended by people is crushing. On February 29th the KKK held a rally in Anaheim, CA. As I watched the news in shock and horror I began to get text messages from young black people that I love asking me “why?”, “how?” As tears rolled down my cheeks I could only respond with, “I’m sorry.” What else can I say? I was brought into a conversation with  an aggressive and unkind woman on the sidewalk in front of the center one day. This woman was complaining to me about the volume of our music. She had already worked her way through two staff members before she got to me. The first person she spoke to lowered the music volume, but that didn’t seem to satisfy her. As I spoke with this lady I was having a hard time understanding exactly what her problem was because by now the music from the burrito shop next door was louder. After about 15 minutes of trying to unpack the issue, she said, “a youth center like this is ok in the Bayview, but it doesn’t belong in the Sunset.” It took me a few seconds to realize what had just happened. When I told her that I was no longer going to engage in a racist conversation she looked surprised and offended. As she drove away in her Volvo with a DIVERSITY bumper sticker, I stood there while kids asked me why she cared what neighborhood they were in, all I could say was, “I’m sorry.” The weeping has become my companion. It’s like a blanket that I find myself wrapped up in. I find the despair over the issues that are still front and center in our society to be overwhelming at times. Daily I look into faces of stressed out youth and families that...

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By on Nov 30, 2015 in Blog |

WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY? We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity. Please consider Sunset Youth Services as you make your decision to give. This year 93% of the young people (14-24) in our Violence Prevention and Intervention Program did NOT re-offend, 234 high-risk youth took part in innovative Digital Arts Training, twenty special needs high-school students learned basic restaurant employment skills, forty-three parents benefited from parent training classes and coaching support with 86% of the total budget going directly to program expenses. That’s a solid investment. We will work hard to ensure your investment pays dividends. Whatever you decide to support for #Giving Tuesday it is appreciated. None of us can make it alone. #ittakesteamworktomakethedreamwork...

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