Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jackson Browne- An Evening Under the Stars

Video footage from Youth Mentoring Connection's special benefit concert with Jackson Browne on October 7, 2010. Jackson talks about his belief in youth mentoring and the importance of mentors in the lives of youth. Funds raised from this concert will go towards Youth Mentoring Connection's dream of an Urban Oasis in South Central Los Angeles.  Youth need a place to feel safe and have their needs met so that they can dream of a better life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Miguel & Me - A Mentoring Story

This is the first in a series of mentoring stories from YMC's Leadership Board.

I started mentoring Miguel in 1998. Early on I remember one of the kids in Miguel’s class asking if I was paid to show up. When I told him no, I could tell by the expression on his face that he had a hard time with the concept. He seemed to truly wonder what incentive I had for showing up. And in the beginning it’s always interesting to see how your mentee explains who you are to his friends.

But let's face it, our formal title of “Mentor” doesn't always feel right. Especially when the relationship is brand new.I think that quite often, from the kids perspective, you go from strange volunteer, to strange volunteer who keeps showing up. And then, eventually, (if you stick with it) you earn the title of mentor. But if you're really lucky (like I have been) even the title of mentor eventually stops sounding natural. After so many years have passed you begin to feel like an extended family member.

About halfway into my first year of mentoring, I showed up to meet with Miguel. I usually timed my visits to coincide with his morning recess. At this point I was unquestionably the best soccer goalie in the entire school. I still remember this moment vividly, I walked up to the outside of Miguel’s class just as the kids were lining up to go to recess. A few of the kids raced over to tell me that Miguel had gone home sick. I paused for a moment, thought about it, then said, "Well, is it OK if I stay and hang out with you guys." A few them reacted by jumping up and down, high-fiving each other and basically just celebrating my decision to stay. I love that about kids.

And it's no coincidence that on that day, my soccer performance supreme. I don't recall my exact statistics but I’m fairly sure the other team didn’t come close to scoring on me.Over twelve years have passed since I somewhat reluctantly made the one year commitment to become a mentor. It’s nearly impossible to sum up what the relationship has meant to me. After watching a curious boy grow into a confident man, a deep bond emerges. What I can say is that the decision to join a formal mentoring program remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Brandon Parker
YMC Leadership Board Chair

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Amy & Lizzette

“Amy means a lot to me. I know that I can count on her for anything and it’s a great feeling to know that you’ll always have someone to count on.

Thank you for being my mentor because I know it’s hard to make time for me but you somehow you still do. The time we spend together is always great.

Thank you for being another amazing woman in my life! J



Mentees and Mentors found out who they were matched with.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Paramount II

Mentees and mentors found out who they were matched with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Danny & Agustin

“To me, Danny was like big brother. A big brother who I can talk to and share my feelings with. I would like to thank you Danny, for being my mentor because you listened to me and of course didn’t judge me. You always gave me advice through out the 2 years we have known each other and I learned to be open with myself and with others. Also, I just feel inspired by you because I like how you get things done. Especially when you direct your short films and at the end of your hard work, you produce an awesome film. As for me, I got inspired to write good lyrics, just like you make your good films. Because of you I became more productive.

Thank you Danny.”


Mentee Initiation Retreat, October 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

From soul to spirit is the hood I claim

Reflections after 4 days in the Big Bear Mountains with 18 mentors and 45 young men from some of the most difficult neighborhoods in Los Angeles, using elemental knowledge, indigenous practice, ritual and love to awaken our wounds, heal, discover our gifts and accomplish together
what we cannot do alone. 
There is also calm after the storm
A subsiding of feelings born
From love for young men torn
Between faith to homies mourned
Fear of the gods we scorned
And new life wanting to take form

We went to the mountain to remember our names
Given by spirit before nightmares came
Informed by the wind, water and flame
With a prayer that the streets may someday change
The earth under our feet won’t feel the same
When anger meets love and trust trumps blame
From soul to spirit is the hood I claim

Youth asks me: Can I have the life I desire?
The one I asked for when facing the fire?
Can I learn to forgive the thief and the liar?
And release these habits in which I’m mired.

To walk this earth as the man I wish to be
I must forgive the thief in me
The one that stole my dignity
Will you absolve me first? That’s my plea
Will you look past my actions to really see?
The wounds that need healing inside of me
My actions are a scream that “I” must become “we”
Until then no man is truly free
“in lakesh” – you are the other me

Will the elder in me find the love to maintain
My purpose when faced with this mountain of pain
That descends from the heavens like torrential rain
Yes “from the heavens” is correctly named
God sends us this challenge, it’s simple and plain
It’s ours to tame judgment and blame
From soul to spirit is the hood I claim

So break my heart, I can take it
Challenge compassion, maybe you’ll wake it
Up in me, so I don’t have to fake it
I steal from your youth just a little bit
The ingredients of life. I’m hangin onto it
Mix in some wisdom for a perfect fit
It’s a grand feast. Let’s partake in it.

Coming down from the mountain we’re never the same
Transformed by god's breath feeding our flame
Can both youth and elder hold onto our game
Through each other’s hearts we remember our name

From soul to spirit is the hood I claim

Tony LoRe

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee- Farah & Victoria

"There are a lot of things I want to thank my mentor for. I want to thank her for coming to all the sessions with me, for everything she has given me and for taking me to places like the Observatory, the museum, the L.A Zoo. I had a really good time. She showed me she cared for me when she bought me books as gifts and tried to encourage me to participate when we had to speak up. In this program I learned to be a little less shy and how to work more with other people".


Monday, October 11, 2010

It's not too late... the angel said...

It's not too late... the angel said.
Even though the world's a mess...
Even though you're not as young...
Even though you've made mistakes
and have been afraid
It's not too late...
And then I saw the world
through the angels' eyes...
I saw the colors I could paint
The bridges I could build
The lives that I could touch
The dreams that could still come true
And it became very clear to me...
That it's not too late.
Ron Atchison

Thursday night over 200 people gathered in Suzanne Rico's backyard to celebrate the dreams that could still come true for thousands of youth. Jackson Browne sang for the dream. Youth from the Fernando Pullum Performing Arts High School Jazz Ensemble sang for the dream. Youth from YMC/Urban Oasis spoke of the dreams that are awakening in their life. Jon Cryer and Lisa Joyner spoke of their connection to our cause. Corporations renewed their support for the dream: HBO, Rhino, Paramount,Warner Bros., MTV Networks, BET, Shout Factory - all give us a nod toward the understanding that the most sacred responsibility of society is to nurture its young. Caring adults showed up to donate their time, money and hearts to our cause. Special thanks to the incredible generosity of Linda LoRe, our entire board of directors, Diana Davidow, Moss Foundation and Rhino Entertainment.

Jackson Browne helping us
keep the dream alive
We raised almost a quarter million badly needed dollars. So now, with the knowledge of that support, we head up the mountain this Thursday with over 100 youth and 35 adults for our Annual Mentee Initiation (Rites of Passage) Retreat to fulfill the sacred responsibility with which we have been blessed. To carry a message to kids from the inner city that "you have not been forgotten".

Many future blogs will no doubt turn to my laments about a culture that fears teens and forgets its responsibilities, but today I sit in gratitude to those who remember.


Tony LoRe, CEO/Founder
Youth Mentoring Connection / Urban Oasis

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hawaiian Gardens Year End Celebration

Last Saturday, mentors and mentees from our Hawaiian Gardens program came out and had fun at the park. Mentees, and some brave mentors, had fun splashing water in the slip and slide. We also had a game of kickball. We closed out the program with a small gift to the mentors who consistently showed up for their mentees and a special poem from Flor.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Super Fuel That Powers This Frantic Vehicle:

The best way to find yourself,
 is to lose yourself in the service of others.

At this time of year Youth Mentoring Connection is on fire with activity. Our event “An Evening Under the Stars” is this week, then the massive undertaking of bringing 100 young people up to the Big Bear Mountains next week for some deep soul work in our Mentee Initiation Retreat. While preparing for these events we are starting a dozen programs, each with about 40-50 people. We will create about 75 sessions at our various programs in just the next two months. Each one is a major event in and of itself that in the past would take us weeks to plan and prepare. Now we do them as a matter of course. While doing all of this we will train and support hundreds of mentors and council scores of youth, help them find jobs and housing, navigate the pitfalls of young relationships, heal from minor and major traumas and deal with the problems of living in some of the most dangerous geography on the planet.

The super fuel that runs this frantic vehicle is generosity:

The generosity of the mentor who shows up in a kids life even though his or her life may be uncertain in these difficult times. There are hundreds of you active right now with us, from all walks of life.

The generosity of staff members whose hearts will propel them to give more of themselves than anyone has a right to ask…who will generously answer the call of a young person in need, even after a 12 hour day.

The generosity of our friends who fight for our programs at their corporations, keeping us running even when there are economic downturns in their business cycles: HBO, Warner Bros., Paramount, Rhino, Shout Factory, MTV, BET, Comedy Central.

The generosity of volunteers who show up with full giving hearts at our office and populate our Leadership Board and Board of Directors – who teach our kids to surf, make films, write poetry, do math, etc. The rock star giving a private concert to raise money and awareness, the movie and TV stars offering their talents (and money).

The generosity of certain constant Angels who lift me up when I need support (thank you Susan, Linda, Julianna and the too many others to mention).

Generous friends and family who dip into their pockets to help us with badly needed funds and who dip into their hearts to give us encouragement to keep going.

And the truth is that all of these people while giving from their hearts are healing their souls. When they lift a young person up they lift themselves up – they lift all of us up. They remind everyone of our common humanity and that we were born with our individual gifts not to make a profit, but rather to make a difference. Or in the words of Sir Winston Churchill:
“We get to make a living; we give to make a life.”
I live in gratitude that I am surrounded by such richness,


Founder & CEO
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis
Founder, Boarding House Mentors

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's Follow-Up

Waiting for Superman: Waiting for America to become America for all children
Read Tony's blog about the film "Waiting for Superman" and the American education system.

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee: Jen & Guadalupe
Guadalupe thanks her mentor for reminding her that everyone's voice matters and being a positive influence in her life.

Surfing 9/26/10
Check out the pictures from our last surfing session for the year! It was a great day to be at the beach and to appreciate the community that had been built throughout the summer!

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!