Oakland Citizen Humanitarian Award
Youth ALIVE’s Glen Upshaw was this year’s recipient of the Oakland Citizen Humanitarian Award. Living Jazz, an Oakland-based music education non-profit, created this award to recognized Oaklanders who “give of themselves beyond the call of duty and to inspire others to work for the betterment of the community.” Each year, they choose a recipient in consultation with the Oakland Department of Human Services. Glen leads our Violence Interruption team. The Violence Interrupters focus on mediating conflicts between individuals, group and gangs throughout Oakland, the kind that arise in the aftermath of violence. They help the wounded assess their safety and work to break the cycle of violence in a lasting way.
Glen is a native Oaklander. He was doing violence interruption work before there was a name for it, first as a street outreach worker at Oakland California Youth Outreach, where he discovered an ability to talk to youth on the street, to listen, and to defuse tense situations. At Youth ALIVE, he has built a team of problem solvers with compassion. He says his own memories and experiences of the street motivate him every day to fight for Oakland’s young people. It’s hard, important work, but the reward comes in seeing lives change for the better.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee presented the award to Glen in January at Living Jazz’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute, at the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland. It was a night of jazz, with rousing performances by the 55-voice Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the 200-voice Living Jazz Children’s Project, the Oakland School for the Arts Ensemble and five amazingly talented jazz singers interpreting the works of Marvin Gaye and backed up by a jazz quintet featuring the great Tammy Hall on piano.