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Ernest Ynostrosa

Intervention Specialist

You don’t go into the kind of work Ernest Ynostrosa does at Youth ALIVE! if it’s not personal. Ernest is an Intervention Specialist in our Caught in the Crossfire program. He enters the lives of young victims of violence in a time of crisis, confusion and fear to help them get back to life. Without the kind of support Ernest provides, shooting victims return to the community not only physically wounded, but emotionally wounded and often alone. Their task of rebuilding their lives becomes infinitely harder. The victims Ernest meets need to trust him. But if you know Ernest, you figure it’s easy for the warm, gregarious big guy to gain that trust. That he has seen his share of people lost to poverty and violence surely helps him understand his clients’ plights. Ernest grew up in a very tough section of Stockton. He remembers carrying a knife to school in fourth grade. He says there were people in his family who took a different path from his, an unhealthy path, and that he could easily have gone in that direction himself. He credits his dad with keeping him on the right track. He took a very winding path on his to Youth ALIVE!. He’s been a mixed martial arts instructor, a bar owner, a jujitsu judo conditioning trainer, a paint salesman, even a dance instructor and, finally, a student. In 2015, after a stint in Texas, where he has family, Ernest moved to the East Bay to join the women he loves as a student at Cal State East Bay, where he got a degree in Sociology and also met fellow Youth ALIVE! intervention specialist Carlos Jackson. Eventually, Carlos told him about the job at Youth ALIVE!. It is tough work they do. They witness a lot of personal and community struggle and pain. Ernest says what motivates him is thinking of people he knows whose lives could have been changed if someone had shown up to help them in their times of crisis. “To be able to help somebody through hard times is very rewarding” he says. “If I have the knowledge to help people, emotionally, financially, I want to be that person. It’s just who I am. I get happy when kids succeed, when people are okay. That could be my relative.”

Headshot of Intervention Specialist  Ernest Ynostrosa