Donor Bentley Richards
My life has been profoundly impacted by the work done in this program. I have come to think of the gang members and others affected by violence in completely different terms than I ever would have imagined eight years ago, before I became involved. They have touched my life in countless ways, becoming friends as well as confidants. One of the most rewarding things for me is to hear that certain people who I have bonded with ask for me when I am not around. I often wondered what kind of impact I could have on people of a different culture and socio-economic background. I have come to find that my presence is simply a testament of my caring, and it is enough. Showing up is a demonstration to these individuals that they are important, their lives are worth wild, and worth living.
I challenge every one of you, reading this letter, to show up at least once. On a few occasions a gang member, a perpetrator or survivor of violence has shared that if they did not have the meeting to come to they don’t know what might have happened that night, that weekend. They were faced with choices of violence and crime, or reaching out for help. That is all it can take to change a life. Thank God they have a place to come to.
I have seen so many varieties of people enter the CleanSlate program, some for a session and others who continue on year after year. I have had to put aside my small-mindedness about what success is. In some cases just being there that one night might mean the person was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Others continue on in the their gang as an advocate for change, while many leave entirely seeking out a new life. One common thread is that most still think of themselves as part of the gang, “la familia”, even though there choices don’t bear witness to it anymore. Health and healing has occurred in the gang program as we all learn to think outside the box and open up to an array of possible solutions. The program has become a part of, mi familia.
I have seen many miracles occur, but even one would suffice. The dedication of Marianne, Allen, Tina and all the volunteers is an inspiring demonstration to me of people who are actively making a difference with their lives. Please support this great work financially, provide a job or a service it all matters. Thank You,