Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CHLA Holiday Party

This was our holiday session with our mentors and mentees. We had dinner following our white elephant gift exchange, which was filled with a lot of goofy gifts.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Warner Bros. Holiday Party 2011-2012

In this session our Mentors and Mentee's enjoyed a fun game of White Elephant after eating a delicious Christmas Lunch at Warner Bros. Here are a few pictures of our lovely matches having a great time and showing love all around. Enjoy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

HBO- Holiday Party

In honor of the holidays we decided to have some fun by playing the White Elephant game at the HBO holiday party. The mentees had a chance to spend quality time with their mentors and open really cool gifts. The game got really exciting because they got to "steal" a couple of the gifts from each other, this of course following the rules of the game.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

CHLA 2011-2012 Matching Session

In this session, mentors and mentees were matched and got to know each other through the mentor/mentee interview and introduced each other to the rest of the group!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

HBO Thanksgiving - Toast & Turkey

In honor of the holidays, the mentees and mentors at HBO had a chance to share with each other what their ideal thanksgiving dinner would look like and what guests they would invite. They also had a chance to give a toast to those special people in their lives.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Gratitude and Prayer for Healing

I give thanks for moments of peace, love and respect; for the ability to imagine a just and loving world; for the beauty of all the expressions of love and gratitude that are abundant on this day.
As we offer each other nourishment of body and spirit, let us also offer deep gratitude for the original generosity of the natives of this land; prayers for healing of deep historical wounds that are too often revisited upon the less privileged and hope that we will learn to live together in harmony.  
I raise my glass to family and friends, to my YMC family and all who share this path of healing and to my beautiful partner Susan.

Peace and blessings,
Youth Mentoring Connection

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CHLA 2011-2012 Getting to Know You Sesion

CHLA mentors and mentees were given another opportunity to get to know each other. Each mentor and mentee were able to have quick individual discussion with one another. After the session, the mentors and mentees choose their top three picks. By next session, they will find out who they are matched up with!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CHLA Meet and Greet

CHLA's first group sesssion: mentors and mentess got together and interacted through different activities, discussions, pizza and chaos bowling.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rhino Mentoring Program 10/19/2011

At our Rhino mentoring program matches interviewed and introduced one another. Amor Armour and Glenn Schwartz created a rap song for their introduction.

G: This is Amor
A: This is Glenn
A: It’s out third year as a match
G: And Jodi is his pen.

A: The program is a lot of fun
G: As you’ll hear within our rap.
G: Lots of laughter and new experiences
A: But right now I need a nap.

G: Amor’s very creative
A: And Glenn’s a funny guy
G: We speak mentoring lingo
A: Sawbouna instead of hi.

G: This year we’ll do more one on ones
A: And conquer all our fears
G: If new matches have any questions
A: Ask as we’re all ears

A: We hope that you enjoyed our rap.
G: We hope it’s not to hammy
G: Look for us on TV
A: Winning our first Grammy.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Half Boy's Lament

Each October we bring about 50 young men and 50 young women up to the Big Bear Mountains for an Initiation Event patterned after indigenous Rites of Passage.  It is always a soulful healing experience and lives are changed forever.  As amazing as the work on the mountain is there's always a little trepidation coming home.  How do we hold onto these gifts that we discovered?  How do we allow the medicine to keep working once we are back to the dangers of our everyday lives?  This poem speaks to the chance that we can:

Went up to “Big Bear” to let myself heal
And search for answers at the medicine wheel
Crossing the footbridge, I enter and bow
Got caught slippin by spirit
       “You in my neighborhood now."

Finding myself in a fight for my soul
Four directions: my allies, to help half become whole

     Seared by fire, healed by flame
     Drowned by water, new life to claim
     Dragged across earth, cured in the pain
     Whipped by the wind, which whispers my name

Back at home among friends and hosts
Old habits summon like restless ghosts
Anger and heartbreak so hard to tame
But the river invites me
      And river knows my name

Mountain air smells of pine, the city can have a stench
The smallest offense makes my fists start to clench
To lash out at others and shift the blame
But the wind whispers new truths
      And air knows my name

When my heart goes dark and only rain is falling
When my forehead is heavy and depression comes calling
I could answer with the pipe, or the bottle I claim
But I’ve been held by the earth
      And earth knows my name

When enemies insult or friends betray
And rage burns inside and I’m called by old ways
There’s medicine now to deal with the shame
I’ve been baptized by fire
      And fire knows my name

I have seen the crow fly with the dove
Can no longer strike out at ones that I love
I called for healing and healing came
I was bitch slapped by spirit
      And spirit knows my name

When petty excuses pull me off track
I can look to the mountain to pull myself back
The trees bear witness to what I became
Fear still surrounds me
      But mountain knows my name

The half boy’s lament “there’s no medicine here”
Then he jumped in the river as he held back a tear
Neither he nor I will ever be the same
To this old vagabond he said… “I love you”
      And the boy knows my name

I am an earth father, inviting you to come home.
I’ll build us a fire so your purpose is known
Let water bring peace to all that you do
The wind will bring magic

     I know your name too

peace and blessings,


Tony LoRe
CEO & Founder, Youth Mentoring Connection

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HBO Meet & Greet

Surfing 2011

Once again our youth had an amazing time surfing the waves. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that came out and helped. This would had not been able to happen with out your support. Thank you and lets keep making a difference in young peoples lives.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Urban Oasis Film Academy Featured on KPCC

The Urban Oasis Film Academy was recently feature on KPCC.  

From the KPSS Multi-American blog: South LA's Film Students

The Urban Oasis Film Academy teaches the art of filmmaking to teens in South Los Angeles, allowing them to make films that have gone on to win awards and landed jobs for some in the film industry.

Videographer Katherine Sheehan interviewed several of the students and instructors for KPCC, including a couple of boys who documented their crosstown trip from South L.A. to Santa Monica, contemplating the socioeconomic and culture divide between the two sides of the city. “It’s beautiful out here,” one boy said once at the beach, “but it’s not for us.”

The Film Academy was started as a partnership between HBO and the Youth Mentoring Connection. A few of the students’ films can be seen here.

If you would like to help the Film Academy continue to impact and inspire inner-city youth, please contact Kimberlee at Youth Mentoring Connection (at 323-731-8080, or kimberlee@youthmentoring.org).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Agueda's Thoughts: More Fee Hikes

    The type of work Youth Mentoring Connection does is life-changing and life-saving. I believe that in order to be able to do such great work that also comes from a good place individual’s need proper training and education on the issues that our communities are facing. Many of us come from such communities, therefore, we have experienced the issues first hand, but regardless of this, being able to critically reflect and analyze your experience is crucial. There are many college courses, professors, advisors, etc who can provide such things for an individual and being able to have those resources at your disposal is an issue of accessibility and equity for our communities.
    Both the UC and Cal State systems recently approved additional fee hikes for the 2011-2012 academic year. The announcements were made this week, just weeks before the year is to begin.  For people who come from a low-income background such notifications can be alarming and can cause panic. How can a family who is barely making ends meet come up with an extra $500-600 in a matter of weeks? Many families do not have disposable income and do not have the liberty to simply set aside money for short-noticed expenses.
    Now, considering all this, how are individuals who are interested in doing social justice work supposed to get the education and training needed to be most effective in the communities they work with when they can barely afford college? How can individuals move up in the social ladder and give back at the same time when their access to so many resources is limited?
    The 9.6% increase the UC Regents recently approved along with the 12% increase the Cal State board approved both will be on top of the previous fee hikes both systems had previously approved for this upcoming academic year. Issues of accessibility and equity have been present within our higher education system for years but fee hikes like these will only create more issues for communities of color.
    Such fee hikes will make it extremely hard if not impossible for many to attend a 4-year institution after high school or transfer from a community college.  This issue goes beyond economic disparities; fee hikes continue to create access for some groups and continue decreasing and limiting the access to higher education to many other groups.  How can those groups whose access is limited be fair competitors in the current job market, do good work, or simply get by? 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Almost Two Years?

Ramses and I have been hanging around together for almost 2 years! It’s hard to believe that we’ve come this far. When we got matched up in 2009, I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to (im sure he didn’t either!). He started off pretty quiet…maybe a little shy. But now he’ll think nothing of getting up and speaking in front of the group.
I’ve grown as a man since we’ve met and have been able to talk to him about just about anything. He’s been with me through a new job, a break up, new place to live; through thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays and BBQs. Malibu (my pup) loves when Ramses comes over. Ramses has much more energy than I do so I leave him to the dog wrestling!
Because of Ramses, I’ve experienced both Snowboarding AND surfing in our time together. We both learned a bit more about each other those times. Because both of us are down to do just about anything, we’re taking advantage of all that YMC has to offer-which has been quite a bit so far.
I hope, at some point, I can make as much of an impact on him, as he is making on me.
Thanks for hanging with me Ramses….

Mark Encinias

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Kim and Stacey

Dear Kim,

“Having you as my mentor for a second year has meant so much knowing you are serious about seeing a better person within me. Last year our relationship was kind of restricted and this year we’ve been through the happy times and the bad times as well. With your help, I’ve become more open minded and I’ve made wiser decisions. I will never forget when we went bowling with my brother and kicked his rear end lol XD”

Your Mentee, Stacey

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

YMC Mentor honored at our nation's capitol !

On Friday, June 17, our 71 year old mentor Tim Wingard was one of 26 “exceptional older adult volunteers” to be recognized by MetLife Foundation and n4a 2011 Older Volunteers Enrich America Awards. (Over 160 agencies throughout the nation nominated their older adult volunteers for dedication and hard work.)

His mentee Giovani Douresseau attended the awards ceremony with Tim in Washington, DC. He told me today that out of all the stories told of the 26 awardees, Tim and Gio’s was the only one that received a standing ovation. Tim told Kimberlee that other than the birth of his daughters this was the most amazing experience of his life. Gio (a scholar athlete now) admitted that he had a hard time keeping up with the old guy while they explored our nation’s capital together.

Mentee Becomes the Mentor
In an ironic twist of fate, Tim recently had brain surgery. Since Tim is still recovering, Gio had to take a large amount of the responsibility of guiding them through their trip itinerary. My friends, this work is blessed.

This is the write up from the event program:

"Tim Wingard 70, has been a volunteer at Youth Mentoring Connection (YMC) for seven years. YMC awakens at-risk youth to their power, unique gifts and purpose by matching them with caring adult mentors. Tim, who still surfs, volunteers his time for the surf program and brought his mentee, Giovanni (Gio) surfing every weekend. At 13, Gio weighed 285 pounds and was struggling in most areas of his life in South Central L.A. Tim taught Gio how to eat healthfully, to surf and to be a proud, responsible man. As a result of Tim’s mentoring Gio lost 120 pounds. Gio is now president of his high school’s debate team, an honor student, surfer and basketball player who has been accepted to several universities. Tim and Gio remain extremely close five years after first meeting.
YMC has a vision of community where young people are truly seen and not just watched…"

Finally, thanks to all who support our ability to hold the space for these kinds of miracles.

peace and blessings,


Tony LoRe
CEO & Founder, Youth Mentoring Connection

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Rachel & Helen

"She is like part of my family now because I feel that I can talk to her about anything and she won’t judge me. Thank you for being my mentor because you’ve shown how to be a better person. Thank you because you took the time to get to know me. With your help, I’ve become more open minded and now I’m willing to try new things, thanks to Rochy. Because of you, I have learned to have different views of life and look at things from other points of view. I will never forget when we went to the Santa Monica stairs because I felt we got closer and that we bonded more."


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shout Factory! - Haiku

In this session mentors and mentees put in practice the art of a writing a Haiku. Each mentor and mentee wrote a Haiku in their group and shared them with each other.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Jose & Jewel

"I would like to thank my mentor for taking me to places I have never been before. She was very nice to me. She always asked how I felt and I thought that was very touching. From this program I learned that with education you can achieve anything. My mentor Jewel is the best!"


CHLA SR I Game of Life

Mentees get a taste of life by going through a life size version of "the Game of Life"!

CHLA JR Survivor

Mentors and Mentees practice teamwork by going through different obstacle courses!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Agueda's Thoughts: Really Alabama?

The state of Alabama just passed a new anti-immigration law that entails the following: it requires law enforcement to “make a ‘reasonable attempt’ to determine a person's citizenship and immigration status, given a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person is an illegal immigrant — unless doing so would hinder an investigation.” Public elementary and secondary schools must now determine the immigration status of its students and must submit and annual report to the state board of education on the number of ‘presumed’ illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are cannot receive state or local public benefits, enroll or attend college and solicit or gain employment. It prohibits harboring or transporting illegal immigrants and knowingly employing them. The number of things it “prohibits” or “outlaws” continues.

After reading the details of this new law I want to propose a simple solution that will speed up the identification process of illegal immigrants: all illegal immigrants must walk around with a big bulls-eye on their back. Not only would that cut cost for the government, it would make the GOP happy, and give peace of mind to those who suffer from xenophobia.  I am sure that supporters of the new Alabama law would love such an idea and have probably already considered it.

Developing some sort of sarcastic solution to this problem of illegal immigration that seems to be on everyone’s radar was probably the only thing that kept me from writing a very undiplomatic response to how I feel about the new law in Alabama. In my opinion, it is repulsive, far-fetched, and extremely racist. It promotes racial profiling and discrimination just like SB1070 in Arizona, it criminalizes any behavior that should be and is constitutional like having a place to live and receiving medical attention, it targets youth who are merely going to school as the law requires, and it promotes a negative attitude and perspective on immigration. Not only does it perpetuate the fear of undocumented immigrants it also increases the fear in individuals who are merely in this country to pursue a better life. Undocumented immigrants already live in the shadows of this country and this law only tells them to remain in the dark and reminds them that they are unwanted.

Undocumented immigrants are a part of our communities and society. They are people’s friends, coworkers, brothers, sisters, or fathers. Because of that, undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who feel the repercussions of laws such as the one just passed in Alabama; everyone around them feels the weight of such laws and they are forced to live in fear. Undocumented immigrants will not disappear or just “go away” like many may wish, so how about the federal government really does what it keeps promising and works to develop a truly comprehensive immigration reform plan before more of this ridiculously racist and unreasonable laws pop up in more states?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday with Mentor and Mentee - Griselda & Nayeli

"I would like to thank my mentor for being there when I needed her. She would always call me and take me to fun places. She showed me she cared about me when she would ask me how I was doing and wanted to always help. She also helped me with college and told me which colleges were famous and talked to me about life".