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Former Youth ALIVE! Crisis Responder Paris Davis is now our Intervention Director, overseeing our programs that step into the lives of victims of violence with practical and emotional support. He says the best piece of advice he ever got was, learn to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” Being able to handle discomfort helped him when he met families who have lost a loved one to violence, usually within 48 hours of a killing, as part of Youth ALIVE!’s Khadafy Washington Project (KWP). KWP is our program that supports families of homicide victims in the aftermath of a killing. Paris is an Oakland native, a Skyline grad, and is raising a young daughter. He didn’t start out on a path to the kind of work he does at Youth ALIVE!. In fact, after a college basketball career at Southern Utah and then Humboldt State, where he graduated in 2017, Paris was headed to Australia with a contract to play professional hoops. His journey was interrupted that spring when he was shot and critically wounded in a robbery in Oakland. After a long, difficult recovery, basketball was no longer an option. It was a tremendous loss, but Paris is intrepid. The other piece of advice he keeps in mind is “be better today than you were yesterday.”
Paris chose education. It wasn’t easy. He says academics don’t come to him naturally. “There are a lot of people smarter than me,” he says, “but I’ll always outwork them.” He got a master’s degree from Cal State East Bay. With his father’s Revelation Outreach Ministries, he helped children and families in need. Eventually, he applied for an internship at Youth ALIVE! and got to know lead violence interrupter Glen Upshaw. When the KWP job became available, Paris got it. The work is hard, and often uncomfortable. He says the really frustrating thing is that, when he shows up, the violence has already happened; he can’t prevent it. But undoubtedly the calming, reassuring support he brings to families has prevented retaliatory violence, has given options where there were none, has given families a voice in their own future. Paris is a reminder to victims that there is love out there still, and maybe even hope.