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Caught in the Crossfire (CiC) Intervention Specialist Andrea Piazza comes to Youth ALIVE! as a veteran of community violence prevention and a person with deep Oakland roots. Andrea grew up in West Oakland and went to McClymonds High. She spent a few years working in retail, until one day a friend approached her. He had seen her strong community orientation and great communication skills. He told her that she would be perfect for the work his organization, BOSS, was doing intervening in potentially violent situations in Oakland. It was something new for her, but Andrea decided to give it a try. She had always been inclined to help, always the one who couldn’t pass by without helping out a distressed motorist or an elderly person struggling with her groceries. And she loved Oakland, and her community. Andrea decided to give it a try. And she thrived.
Violence has touched Andrea and her family closely, multiple times. She understands deeply the plight of traumatized victims and their families, and what kind of help and support they need. At BOSS, she was invited to start a support group for girls at McClymonds. It took time and patience for the girls to respond. But soon they found a place where they could explore their common ground, where they could learn to be friends instead of rivals. Andrea says time and patience still are the keys to her work with Caught in the Crossfire supporting traumatized victims of violence, often beginning at their hospital bedsides. Victims often remain fearful long after an assault. They can find it hard to give their trust. “You have to let them come to you,” says Andrea. “You just show people that you will continue to be there for them so that, when they’re ready, they can tell you.” Andrea says she is thrilled to work with and learn from the many strong women leaders at Youth ALIVE!. But it’s her clients, she says, that keep her going. “This work,” says Andrea, “this is where I need to be.”