Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday's Follow-Up

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Carrie & Brizaneny
Brizaneny thanks Carrie for being a caring mentor.

Warner Brother - Poetry
The Mentors and Mentees share their feelings through poetry. Some inspiring moments occur.

Adams II-Superheroes
At Adams Middle School session, the mentees & mentors create their own superheroes.

It's going to be a crazy, lazy weekend with wonderful warm days. As the sun shines so brightly on LA, so does it shine brightly on YMC and all the tremendous good that they do. Under the inspired direction of Tony LoRe, YMC has changed the lives of both mentors and mentees for the better, helping to create a better LA. I have been privileged to be a part of this wonderful, sometimes crazy group. No matter where I end up, I know I will always be a part of YMC.

Adieu mes amis. You are always in my heart! Keep up the good work and the fight!
Love to you all, La judy


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adams II- Superheroes

At this Adams Middle school session, the mentees and mentors had the opportunity to create their own superheroes. Each match had to create a positive superhero with unique and special powers. Some of the costumes turn out to be really creative and fun. We had superheroes that helped people with their powers of love and compassion. Other had powers that will make smile when you are sad. Overall the each match had a chance to have fun by helping each other.

Warner Brothers- Poetry

At our Warner Brothers mentoring session yesterday, the mentors and mentees had the opportunity to express themselves using one of the rawest forms of communication. Poetry was written and read with the help and guidance of Street Poets. Street Poets not only shared some of their amazing, deep, and real poems but they helped create a space where our young people felt safe to not only write about their stories but also share them with the room. The poem below is from one of our young men who was forced to move away from his family in the Central Valley and move in with his aunt in South Central. The problems and violence that threatened the safety of this young man and his family forced him to leave and continue his life else where. His poem reflects the emotions he struggles with as this process continues.

When I speak
I start to panic
Trying to find the right words
Trying to find the right verse
To express how I feel
I feel empty
I feel sad
Or do I feel proud of myself
I left my family to better myself
To set an example for my brother
That would make my dad proud
I left so my mom wouldn’t cry
When she saw me out there
No more calls from the school
Giving them bad news
No more calls from the cops
Telling them they had to come pick me up
I look at myself in the mirror to think
Where I’m I, did I do the right thing leaving my family?
They say its ok, I got a new start
I better myself no more problems,
I don’t have to watch my back
Bit when I speak to myself
I still feel empty inside.
I wish my family could see
And be here for me
But instead we are miles apart
I hear their voice on the phone
Its not the same
Sometimes I don’t know how I feel
But sometime when I speak
I’m proud of myself.
I reached my goal that I promised my dad,
I did what some homies told me was WACK
But I think about it
So now when I speak
I do it to get ahead in my life
I don’t know how I feel thought
But I guess that’s life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Carrie & Brizaneny

"Carrie, you are a phenomenal mentor. I have learned so much about you and I was able to express myself with you. You always made a way to make me feel comfortable around you. I am glad we made commitments and agreements with each other. You have a fantastic personality and I will always you were there for me when I needed someone. You are a great person and thanks for caring about my future".


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday's Follow-Up

"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Steven Biko

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Linzi & Evelyn
Evelyn thanks her mentor for being someone she can talk to during hard times.

What to Say When Summoned for Jury Duty

Agueda writes about how the criminal justice system is far more interested in the incarceration business instead of the rehabilitation business.

Youth Mentoring - Survivor Style
Check out the video and see the kind of fun you can have!

Surf session will be coming up soon. But the weather this weekend may be chilly and cold...?

Have a good one!
La Judy

Youth Mentoring- Survivor Style

Last Wednesday, mentors and mentees from our Odyssey program participated in our “Survivor” session – the supreme ordeal of the mentoring relationship!  Actually, as you will see, Survivor is a lot of fun – but it does test the teamwork and determination of all or our mentors and mentees.

Check out the video below to see how much fun we had! Would love your comments and feel free to share it with your friends using the links below to share on Facebook, email it to friends and more. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What to Say When Summoned for Jury Duty

How I Got Out of Jury Duty...By Telling the Truth

There is no question that our prison system is a private business whose main interest is incarcerating individuals because of the profit incentives. The prison industrial complex has been affecting our communities in a very serious way for a few decades now. The number of individuals who have been incarcerated over the past 10 years has dramatically increased even though crime rates have not increased at the same rate. Since the three strikes law was passed in the mid 1990’s, the number of individuals who have been given life sentences has gone up considerably; if the types of crimes that are being prosecuted are analyzed you find that many of these individuals are now incarcerated for life for crimes that are not too serious. Once an individual is part of the states criminal system it is extremely difficult for their past not to be used against them. The justice system claims to be interested in a person’s rehabilitation but how is that being accomplished when individuals are given life sentences without the possibility of parole once they have been charged with 3 felonies? These are the same individuals who were released from prison before and put into the same conditions that got them into prison in the first place.

Many argue that not every individual chooses to fully participate in the rehabilitation process and that they choose to go right back into the “lifestyle.” While that argument may apply to some individuals, every person with a record cannot be assumed to be a criminal for life. If the state and federal government really made an effort to fund truly effective rehabilitation programs, fix the current education system, fund non-profits or programs that help individuals become productive members of society then perhaps those same individuals would not end up back in prison. California now spends 10 percent of its operating budget on incarcerating individuals in state prisons. The private companies who provide prisons with their supplies now look at the number of third or fourth graders who are failing in school to estimate the number of beds they will be supplying the prisons with. At such a young age, our youth is already being tracked into the criminal system. Instead of looking at the number of failing students to research how the education system can be reformed, our government is perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline. Is it any surprise that this same government is not committed to the true rehabilitation of individuals? There is no clear investment in our youth and until our government and society really works to discover and nurture their individual gifts our youth will not reach their full potential.

With such knowledge it was no surprise to read an article about a man who was released from jury duty after telling the Judge that he was invested in the rehabilitation of individuals. I guess we don’t have to lie to try and get out of jury duty, we can just tell the court system that we are invested in our people and our communities and that will work just fine.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Linzi & Evelyn

"I would like my mentor to know that I am thankful for all the places she has taken me and for being someone I could talk to about anything. She used to e-mail me to see how I was doing and plan our next one on one. I learned to be open and to try new things in life. I think this is important because it helps me prepared for everything that comes in life".


Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday's Follow-Up

"Justice is truth in action." Benjamin Disraeli

Show me your papers! Will my diploma suffice ?!
Tony writes about pressuring the government into making changes in our immigration laws. Why can't young people of "good moral character" who have graduated from a US high school have the opportunity to earn permanent resident status? As Tony says: "So please, take a stand. Sign petitions. Raise awareness. Let your voice be heard." Amen to that!!!!

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Sue & Viviane
Viviane thanks her mentor Sue. She is grateful that Sue cared for her by understanding her problems and taking her to places Viviane wanted to go.

Check out this great website!!! -- you rock Lamar!

Have a great weekend!
La Judy

Thursday, May 13, 2010

HBO- Defend Your Life

During this mentoring at HBO, the matches played a game where each individual must "defend their life." They must make a case for themselves as to why they deserve to live and what they have done to earn such reward. The matches were broken up into 2 big groups and only 2 mentors and 2 mentees can survive.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Sue & Viviane

"I would like to thank my mentor for letting me have a great time and letting me experience new feelings. SUE, YOU’RE THE BEST!!! The one thing that Sue did to let me know that she cared for me was understanding my problems and taking me to places I wanted to go. This experience helped me build up friendship and trust with other people that I barely met".


Monday, May 10, 2010

Show me your papers! Will my diploma suffice?!

Maria sheds tears of the soul, usually when she speaks of all the people who have been there for her along her difficult journey. She makes you cry too when she tells her story. Bright and inspirational, straight A student, ready to go to college to get a degree that she won’t be able to use in this country because her parents brought her over here at two years old. Her younger brother will have the benefits of citizenship because he was born here. But just like him this is the only place that she has ever called home.

Juan is a brilliant young man, academically and artistically. Worldly wise at a young age, breezing through high school, he taught himself five languages and tutored fellow students in various subjects. He's one of those people who can speak softly and still project the power and authority of someone who knows himself. Shunning college he now works as a tattoo artist for cash because he can’t get a social security number. When he breaks down and shares his story (which is rare) the pain is almost unbearable. Yet, he perseveres and is the kind of person that everyone loves to be around. Brought across the border as an infant, he has never known any other place as home.

Due to their undocumented status, these young people live cautiously, in the shadows of society. With spirits so bright and powerful they should stand out like a candle in the dark, yet they walk like stealth Jedi-knights through this culture that is consumed with fear. They are the ones that are at high risk of rejection and exploitation, living with no societal protection. Yet this society seems to fear them. Arizona certainly fears them.

In her blog of April 22 - I Love Us, Juliana shares that when youth act out we see it as an opportunity.
“… we can’t do anything about it until it shows up ..."
She was talking about when youth act out, but what about when an entire state acts out as in the recent immigration bill that sent the state of Arizona further in the direction of fascism. It showed up! So, let’s look at it as an opportunity – at least a wake up call.

Those who are upset about what happened in Arizona can complain about it and then get back to watching American Idol, or we can use it to motivate action. When AZ Governor Brewer signed the bill she gave us a clue about how we can do this. She stated that they had tired of waiting for the Federal government to do something. So, let’s respond by pressuring the government to do something. Of course the something that I would like to start with is probably not what the good Governor had in mind.

Let’s start with the “DREAM Act” that has been floating around congress for years with little political will to push for enactment. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors act would provide undocumented students who graduate from US high schools the opportunity to earn permanent resident status. This is essentially for young people who were brought into this country at a young age by their parents. If they were able to overcome all the obstacles in front of them, graduate high school, go on to college and demonstrate “good moral character” (no trouble with the law) they may qualify. This should be an easy one as we are only talking about people who stand a great chance of significantly contributing to society. Further, this is really the only place that they have ever called “home”. So, why shouldn’t they be able to fully participate in this society?

If we can’t get this one through, then what hope do we have for a compassionate larger policy?  For a moment let’s forget about those here illegally. Legal citizens of the United States of America cannot walk free in their own state. Legal citizens of the state of Arizona can be stopped and hassled at any time. What if they forget to bring their “papers” out of the house with them? I wonder if the folks that think the Arizona law is reasonable have any idea of what it’s like to be considered a second-class citizen. In case you think that this policy may not get fully enforced because the governor assured us that there will not be racial profiling, know this: the law provides that government entities can be sued for not aggressively prosecuting this law.

So please, take a stand. Sign petitions. Raise awareness. Let your voice be heard.
"He who passively accepts evil is as much
involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tony LoRe
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis
Boarding House Mentors

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday's Follow-Up

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Thomas Jefferson

Tony's Blog: Sticks and Stones are Easy
Tony writes about the YMC program ECHO, where adults and youths engage in honest conversation about all kinds of topics; a place that is a forum for young men and women to feel safe to express themselves without feeling judged. In the last Echo boys session, the use of certain words that denigrate women was discussed. As the adult men shared their experiences to the young men, true mentoring arose spontaneously.

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Becky & Nayeli
Nayeli thanks her mentor, Becky, for listening to her during the difficult times.

I think it will be a warm weekend...stay cool everyone!
La Judy

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Becky & Nayeli

I want to thank my mentor for all the attention she gave me. I thank her for the support and for listening to me during difficult situations. I know she cares for me because she listens to me and she gives me advise. I know she cared for me when we went skateboarding together for the first time. I have learned that I can open up to people without being judged. I have also learned someone cares about my life and I don’t necessarily need to hide or put a shield in front of me.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Tony's Blog: Sticks and Stones are Easy

“We can call each other “nigga”, but a white guy can’t. So why do we call women “bitches”…
…just because we hear them call each other that?”
 This was Jamal’s epiphany…It was a question that I had written in my notes in preparation for our monthly ECHO session; our straight talk-no holds barred-tell the truth with whatever language you need to express yourself-gender specific-deep discussion group.

This night, for the first time since we started ECHO three years ago, I had come with an agenda. Although our last few sessions had been powerful, I felt we were starting to lose some respect for the process. Some of the guys were showing up late and treating our gatherings almost like “kick backs”. So, I started the meeting with my concerns. This led to a very honest conversation about all kinds of topics related to how we respect each other as men and how we honor the process that we have all come to look forward to - this process we call ECHO. I was impressed by both the honesty and openness in the room. We have created our own little culture that fosters that.
On my list of things to discuss was my discomfort with the reference to women as “bitches”. Difficult territory to venture into, as in this venue we don’t preach and that’s a hot button topic that makes me want to preach. We are here to provide a forum for young men to feel safe to express themselves without feeling judged. So, I had planned to bring it up, not as the leader of the group, but just as another guy in the room sharing his feelings and hoping for an “agreement” rather than imposing a “rule”. However the previous items I had brought up took so long to work through that I decided it would have to wait for next time. Well, sometimes the powers of the other world just intervene and I just gotta sit back and say “damn”. As I opened the floor for anyone to speak one of the young men talked about his relationship with his girlfriend. One thing led to another and we were in the discussion about women and the b-word was flyin’ around the room. Then Jamal spoke up and shared his on the spot epiphany, speaking as if he had lifted the words from the pages of my notes. Then another young man, sounding forlorn, spoke up to talk about how just barely out of his teens he no longer enjoys, nor sees the point of sex. Another muttered, “I thought I was the only one”. They were transitioning to the need for more purpose and real passion with women. They were looking for mentoring. Then something beautiful occurred. The older men showed up as “elders” in a way that I dream of. They didn’t preach or judge. They related…and spontaneous mentoring began to occur as they told their stories of healing through their primary relationships with women. Their words, tone and presentation demonstrated a love and respect for the women of their lives, and a delight in their own journey of self-discovery through relationship…
…and the young men listened.
The typical male chest thumping was interrupted by a bit of sweet wisdom. In this hyper masculine culture that our boys come from, one hears daily about icons of sport, celebrity and political leadership acting in disrespect to the commitments of their marriages and relationships. Where are the role models for our young men to show them something better, more meaningful and fulfilling?  Friday night they were in the room with me. Men told of how learning to honor one’s self as a man becomes the key to learning to honor women and all that they mean to our lives. It is our inner-relationship that we must heal first. Paradoxically, healing our inner-relationship is often informed by the lessons of our external relationships with women.

I feel we made some serious progress that night. The b word will still be used, but I think with less frequency. More importantly, talk of love competed successfully with talk of conquest. Seeds were planted and epiphanies were discovered. We ventured into the conversation that men can only have with other men and only if trust is present. It is in this forum, this kind of honest give and take between generations that we will rediscover a path to cultural healing.



Tony LoRe
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

Boarding House Mentors