"As a young boy, James was abandoned by his parents and spent most of his childhood in and out of foster homes. As a troubled youth, he also became a familiar face in the juvenile justice system and entered the youth program at age 14. This is the kind of child many people think stands no chance of rehabilitation and no chance of becoming a productive member of society. In the last years of his incarceration, however, James realized that his teachers and the Auxiliary did care about him. He earned his GED and his high school diploma. After leaving the youth program, James received guidance and financial assistance from the Auxiliary and began a real college career. He started his post-secondary work at Butte College in Oroville and completed his Associate in Arts degree at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. In August of 2009, with further support from the Auxiliary, James was accepted as a transfer student to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he graduated 2011 with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.
This is an amazing story, but there are many other teens like James, young men and women who need our support and attention. The Auxiliary provides career counseling to teens like James before they leave the Hall, and provides financial assistance to those seeking academic and vocational degrees as they enter the real world. The Auxiliary currently supports 32 at-risk scholars who are working toward an academic or vocational credential! The Auxiliary is currently working to expand both its career development and mentor programs so that even more at-risk young men and women can successfully return to society and lead more positive, productive, self-reliant lives."
"I lost focus, becoming overwhelmed, believing I couldn’t at a young age. I lost hope, compassion and care for my future. Before I hit bottom I was reached by Doctor Reverend Charles Tinsley and Ms. Heidi Jones, from the Juvenile Hall Auxiliary, who both gave me hope for tomorrow when I never cared about today. They gave me the tools necessary to obtain the resources I needed and at times even provided the resources that I needed.
After getting my belief system back, feeling like I had support from others I tried and tried again. I have been through three Junior Colleges and what seems like a hundred jobs. I found a place I enjoyed and applied myself earning a 3.8 GPA at DVC my 4th semester in college. Feeling a little empowered I applied to a dozen Universities. I got into one and decided to go with it, taking a leap forward.
Saint Mary’s College of California is where I ended up. With expenses piling up I needed people like those of the Juvenile Hall Auxiliary. In the beginning I was very nervous, not knowing whether the next step I took would collapse underneath me. But I had the support I needed and the belief that I could. These two factors give people the reasoning that anything is achievable if you apply yourself. Through hard work and perseverance I reached a place where I could see the end in mind.
With the help of the Auxiliary and Reverend Tinsley I know I can. Feeling the support of others is what helps me continue to the next day. I owe everything to individuals like Shannon, those at the Auxiliary and Reverend Tinsley. I have gone from not caring about tomorrow to only thinking about my future and how I live today. I now know I can truly believing that with support and confidence I can achieve anything."
Before I got locked up, I just didn't do anything. I cut school a lot and smoked weed. After I got locked up everything changed. I went to the ranch and went through their drug court and anger management programs. At the ranch I really learned to work through my anger and work together with other people. Now I actually do things.
I really like working at the Hall Closet. I feel close to the adults like Don and Heidi, they've really helped me out and showed me that it doesn't matter what society thinks or what your parents think, you can do better than everyone's expectations of you. I always want to be doing things now.
I like fixing things at the Hall Closet, and helping sort the clothes. Now when new people come in I can train them and show them how it all works and I like that. I also like it because it's good retail experience that could help me get a job. I'm a totally different person than I was before I was locked up.
"My name is Jamia, I'm 19 years young. Growing up was hard for me because of the neighborhoods I lived in. It was about survival and how we were going to make it to see the next day. I think living by those rules everyday changed my mentality, because I was living for one day at a time instead of the rest of my life. At 18 I went to Juvenile Hall, and everything I did in the dark came into the light.
I got out and I didn’t really have that same determination to go back to the streets to get money. I felt like I’m getting older, mature, I can’t keep living like this. I got a job at the Hall Closet Thrift Store, referred by my therapist. I worked there for a couple of months where I met and bonded with a lot of positive influences, women and men who gave me the strength and guidance to do better.
My next move was trying to find a career I could be happy with and gain a lot of money from. I eventually chose becoming a phlebotomist and the Hall Closet helped pay my school tuition. I started school, which I can say was successful! I can now say for the first time in many years that I am proud of myself and blessed."
This year over 150 young people will spend the holidays without the comforts of home and family. They desperately need to know they are not forgotten and have a future.
Special thanks to our community partners who are providing new backpacks stuffed with a personal blanket, a book, a writing journal, new socks and t-shirt, hygiene products, and fun candy for our young people. Thank you to Valley Bible Church of Hercules, the Children's Support League, Macedonia Baptist Church of Richmond, the young lawyer's section of the Contra Costa Bar Association, Archer Norris (a professional law group), Moraga Rotary, and many generous individuals. If you would like to contribute, write to us at admin@ReachingOurYouth.org for gift specifications. Thanks again to our partners!!
Those interested in participating in the Auxiliary Christmas Program at Juvenile Hall in 2016 must first contact the Auxiliary for Probation forms and registration requirements: email us at admin@ReachingOurYouth.org.
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