Crisis Responder, Khadafy Washington Project
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Youth ALIVE! Crisis Responder Jessica Segura isn’t one to sit on the sidelines. When she sees something wrong, she acts. “I can’t just complain about the justice system, or violence,” she says, “without trying to help, without trying to be well-informed, to find the right people to work with to make a difference.”
Jessica comes from an extremely close-knit family. They are also an extremely East Bay family. Born in Oakland, she grew up in Hayward, went to Hayward High, got her Associate’s degree from Chabot College, and has long been preparing herself to make Oakland and the East Bay safer, fairer and better. At Chabot, she studied criminal justice as a way into the lives of victims of domestic violence.
Here at Youth ALIVE!, she has one of the toughest jobs: in the raw, painful days immediately after a homicide, crisis responders with our Khadafy Washington Project, named for the murdered son of its founder, take by the hand devastated, angry, fearful victim families, to guide them through the urgent business that arises in a killing’s wake. They help you stay somehow tethered to daily life while a terrible new reality swirls around you. The task is large but the rewards come quickly, like when you see the relief and gratitude a grieving mom feels to have financial help for a funeral or lost wages or childcare. “It’s an amazing feeling, that you’ve actually helped them through.”
If any job calls for work-life balance, it’s Jessica’s. She loves to draw and read, and those things help her stay positive, but she says it’s the comfort and fun of family that really keep her going. Sundays at her mom’s house. Time with her wife laughing, meditating. But, then, the work of helping “people who don’t have the resources and don’t know where to go” calls. “I need,” says Jessica, “to be in a position that allows me to make a difference.”