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“Madres Unidas has helped me to have a better relationship with my family. Now, I know how to talk to my son about the dangers facing young people today. I know more about alcohol and drugs, as well as HIV/STIs. I highly recommend this program."
– VICTORIA, MADRES UNIDAS PARTICIPANT
“In Madres Unidas I learned a lot about drugs, risky sexual behaviors, STI’s and HIV. My son learned about the same topics in Youth Making Proud Choices. Thank you for these excellent programs!"
– DULCE, MADRES UNIDAS PARTICIPANT
Anthony* called about an internship with our SHORTSTOP program; just months prior, he attended SHORTSTOP after being caught spraying graffiti. “Since I finished the program, I’ve wanted to work with teens caught up like I was. If I hadn’t got caught, I'd be kickin’ it with the wrong group. Because of SHORTSTOP, my life is going in a different direction." He has since graduated from high school, enrolled at Golden West College and plans to transfer to a university for Criminal Justice.
– SHORTSTOP PARTICIPANT, * Participant name changed
“I really liked the message that you had for us. I realized that I can make my future bright, as long as I alter my mindset and decision-making skills. One of the most important things I learned was that we are a product of our choices. Who we become is directly related to the steps we take and paths we choose. Thank you for opening my eyes to see where my bad choice could have led me. Thank you for changing my mindset. You helped me, and the rest of our group, in more ways than you know."
– SHORTSTOP YOUTH PARTICIPANT
"Becoming a Project SELF intern has been one of the best decisions I could have made. It has taught me ambition and what the proper etiquette is in an office environment. It has also taught me to be professional and it has given me knowledge and insight of what the real world will be like after college. It has made me realize that the more education I get, the better chance I have for a better life."
– NIKOLAS, PROJECT SELF PARTICIPANT
From obstacles such as a broken family and her parents’ painful divorce, a brother involved in a gang, and financial hardships to college graduate and mentor, Project Youth OCBF turned Zaira’s dangerous life into a bright future helping others. “The program helped me focus on maintaining good grades, taking rigorous courses, and finding volunteer opportunities, in order to be able to achieve my goal to attend college. The four-year renewable college scholarship was key to me graduating from Cal State Fullerton."
– ZAIRA ZAVALZA, HIGHER EDUCATION MENTORING PROGRAM GRADUATE
From struggling to put food on the table to a full ride at Harvard, the Higher Education Mentoring Program paved Noemi’s way to a life she once dreamed about. “My parents attended school up to the 6th and 8th grades in Mexico. Because of their education, their job opportunities have been limited and the college admissions process was a mystery, until the program helped us. When people now ask me how I'm doing, I reply 'Living my Dream.'"
– NOEMI, HIGHER EDUCATION MENTORING PROGRAM
From the product of the Santa Ana public school system, Stephen experienced firsthand the struggle of being a first-generation college student. However, he finished strong with a degree in Business Economics from UCLA. “Project SELF taught me that I can earn my seat at the table. I recognize that not everyone will have someone like I did to tell them that they are destined for greatness. I believe in Project SELF because the people in involved in Project SELF believe in me." Stephen credits Project SELF for giving him access to doors he could never have opened himself.
– STEPHEN MENDOZA, PROJECT SELF GRADUATE
From an unmotivated arrogant teen making bad decisions, Project SELF helped turn Miguel into a mature young man who has earned two college degrees and is looking forward to a successful career as a teacher. “Project SELF motivated me to become a better person, a better student, and someone who now wants to give back through teaching." Miguel credits the people he met during his Project SELF internship as the motivation to attend college and seek a professional career. He is extremely grateful for the experience that changed his life.
– MIGUEL MEJA, PROJECT SELF GRADUATE
From a struggling teen surrounded by violent crime and drug use to the position of supervisor for 15 years at a respected large Orange County law firm, Jesus tells how Project SELF changed his life. “This program opened the door to something I would never have imagined; it showed me to believe in myself…Project SELF gave me the confidence to keep growing even when all the odds were stacked against me."
– JESUS, PROJECT SELF GRADUATE
"I haven’t seen my son this happy in a long time. He is excelling in football, his confidence is growing, and our relationship is getting stronger every day. We recently registered him for the 8th grade, and he is taking Advanced Placement classes in English and art. We can’t thank the SHORTSTOP program enough for all it has done."
– SHORTSTOP PARENT
"Youth Making Proud Choices helped me to be much more aware of STIs. Before I’d only worried about not getting my girlfriend pregnant. But now I make sure to wear a condom to protect myself and my girlfriend."
– YOUTH MAKING PROUD CHOICES PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
“¡Cuídate! helps teens feel comfortable asking important questions. Project Youth OCBF is a safe place. I have learned a lot and now I know I can be safe in the future."
– CUIDATE PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
“Through Madres Unidas, I learned that it is not only important to know about HIV/STI’s, but it is also important to share this knowledge with our family and friends…how to recognize what puts us at risk, and how to protect oneself. I am now a Health Educator for Madres Unidas. I have been empowered and I am proud to help other women in my community."
– ROCIO A., HEALTH EDUCATOR
“Project SELF was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to get experience that I would not be able to obtain in any other job. I recommend this program to every high school student."
– PROJECT SELF INTERN
“I graduated from Century High School and will be attending the University of California, Irvine with a major in dance and a second major in business. After college, I plan to become a backup dancer for artist like Lady Gaga or Beyoncé. I also plan to return to my community and teach dance. One day I would like to open my own dance studio and offer scholarships to low-income students so they can also afford a high-quality training. The resources this program has given me, I realized that I am capable of anything."
– HIGHER EDUCATION MENTORING PROGRAM GRADUATE
“I really need to thank STOP SHORT of Addiction. You gave me a 2nd chance. Not everyone gives you a 2nd chance. You also helped my mom get food from a food bank and most importantly, you help us get into a domestic violence program where we could get motel vouchers to pay for our place. We are doing much better. I’m thankful you helped me get off probation, but I’m even more thankful that you brought my mother and me closer."
– STOP SHORT OF ADDICTION PARTICIPANT
"The STOP SHORT of Addiction program was really helpful. I learned about the deadly effects of drugs. Having to talk about my mistakes in front of everyone wasn’t easy. When the other kids were telling their stories and problems it really got me thinking and what they said really got into my head. STOP SHORT of Addiction gave me the chance to think about my future and appreciate what I have. Thank you for giving me a second chance!"
– STOP SHORT OF ADDICTION YOUTH PARTICIPANT
"I found STOP SHORT of Addiction to stand out from the other court-provided programs. The first class uses great scare tactics to discourage the repetition of misbehavior. The orange jumpsuits, handcuffs, and guest speaker discouraged drug and alcohol use for our personal safety as well as the safety of others. I liked how the guest speakers at the second session were able to provide personal insight and opinions…Overall, I believe STOP SHORT of Addiction to be a great program."
– STOP SHORT OF ADDICTION STUDENT
“I learned that cannabis caused me anxiety after using with meth. I thought it had no effect on me, but really I was getting behind in school. I know now from STOP SHORT of Addiction that the only thing drugs do are numb you. I believe STOP SHORT of Addiction is an amazing opportunity. It gave me a glimpse of what could have happened if I got caught using drugs. I am now happily sober, conscious of my actions and better than I’ve ever been!"
– STOP SHORT OF ADDICTION PARTICIPANT