Showing Love and Kindness to Those Who Need it Most
Violence and trauma curtail child development, limiting opportunities, and causing grief within the community. In Kern County, there were a total of 139 homicides in 2020, according to the KGET homicide tracker. In September, eleven of those victims were children, and about half of those homicides stemmed from gang activity.
It is a multifaceted problem, but it all roots back to “broken hearts.” When a person has a “broken heart,” whether it be from poverty, dysfunctional families, embedded trauma, or academic failure, they may feel out of place and often resort to violence and gangs to gain a sense of belonging. We recognize the humanity of these gang members and their related families. Thus, it becomes our most important job to ensure that violence is not the only option for someone with a broken heart looking to fill a void.
We try to reach youth early by giving them a supportive adult figure who encourages academic participation and discourages behavioral violence through our Reach 4 Greatness Program. Manuel Carrizalez is often at locations of conflict to support families of victims and meet with involved gang members to facilitate peace. We do not shy away from the turmoil or chaos but instead try to bring empathy and unity back into neighborhoods by being there ourselves. We lead peace by hosting community outreaches for diverse groups of people, and we try to help recently incarcerated individuals break a cycle of crime by facilitating volunteer opportunities or jobs.