Our Big Night at Bocanova!
Violence Prevention Community
Celebrates 25 Years of Youth ALIVE!
In late June at Bocanova Restaurant in Oakland, 175 of our closest friends joined us to celebrate Youth ALIVE!’s 25 years of violence prevention, intervention and healing. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called Youth ALIVE! “Oakland’s homegrown leader in the struggle to end violence.” She addressed the gathering and spoke about the effect of our work. “Youth ALIVE! saves lives,” she said.
Among other friends at the celebration were veterans of our programs, like Mike Munson, Operations Director at the City of Oakland’s KTOP Channel 10, and a founding TNT youth leader. Some of our heroes were there, too, like Oakland’s Marilyn Washington Harris, founder of Youth ALIVE!’s Khadafy Washington Project, a program named for her murdered son, through which we carry on in his memory, supporting families of homicide victims in the immediate aftermath of a killing. And we were thrilled to present an award to one of our great partners in serving victims, the Alameda District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program.
At Bocanova, our supporters got to meet some of our delightful Teens on Target Youth Leaders and hear one of them, Miracle Robinson (pictured at right, with her mom, Sandra Davis), talk about growing up in East Oakland and what Youth ALIVE! has meant to her. Miracle, who graduated from Castlemont High School this year, joined TNT as a sophomore. She soon stood out for her energy and articulateness. Mayor Schaaf introduced Miracle to the gathering. They’d met before, when Miracle had facilitated a forum on gun safety legislation with the mayor and Lt Gov. Newsom. At Bocanova, she called her mom up to be by her side. She talked about how her mother had taught her right from wrong, so crucial in East Oakland, where choices are stark and life directions can diverge dramatically. She said TNT was the perfect program because it informs and engages young people on the topics and choices they face on the streets every day. Youth ALIVE! TNT staff had, over the years, become caring mentors she could always turn to. And TNT had trained her and her fellow youth leaders to be mentors themselves to the middle school students they teach violence prevention workshops to each spring. Beyond TNT, Miracle talked about her Youth ALIVE! Pathways case manager, Jelani Avant, who had supported her in so many practical aspects of life — getting her driver’s license, looking for work — who had become another mentor she could connect with.
The night was a great success because it brought together so many people from so many walks of life who care so much about youth growing up in Oakland and who want to help them thrive in safety, health and peace. Healing and safety are possible and we are grateful to all of our friends for their contribution to our work. Here’s a gallery of pictures from the event.
Thanks so much to Morgan Bellinger and Move Photography!