Tuesday, December 11, 2012

News from my Youth ALIVE!

Youth ALIVE! saves lives.

Youth ALIVE!News from Youth ALIVE!
December 11, 2012
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"I'm not asking for no money, no I'm just asking for a little change,
that could turn into big change and the change could also change many people's lives."  
--Joshep Sanchez, Castlemont TNT member, November 13, 2012

Youth ALIVE! saves lives

KTVU story shares aftermath of violence
YA!'s Briana, Caheri and Tammy talk about recovery
TNT + Mayor Quan
College student and former TNT leader Briana Dunn and TNT staff member Caheri Gutierrez, both of whom were assisted by Caught in the Crossfire's Tammy Cloud after they suffered gun violence as teenagers, were interviewed for a TV news feature about their journey from pain to hope.

County Supervisors award Marilyn Harris
Award honors her work in memory of her son Khadafy
Marilyn HarrisLast month, the Board of Supervisors and Human Relations Commission gave Khadafy Washington Project founder Marilyn Washington Harris the "Excellence in Human Relations" Award to salute the work she has done in the community since the untimely death of her son.

A San Francisco magazine article recounted her story:
"That is not how a 21 year-old should feel"
Davantae tells his story
I was shot in the back on streets of East Oakland on December 21, 2011. I have a two year old daughter who I need to live for and provide for. I've noticed that since the shooting, I can't sleep too good, I wake up at night when I hear any strange noise, I find myself always peeking out of the windows, as if I am paranoid. I never used to be like that before the shooting. But now, I do things that I know should not be normal. It is sad to me because I don't even feel safe taking my daughter to the park to play with her. I know that is not how a 21 year old should feel.   

One of the only things that I can say that has been going good in my life is the help that I have received from Youth ALIVE!. They have helped me believe that I can still have a bright future.

Support Youth ALIVE!
Youth ALIVE! believes that urban youth have the innate capacity to stop the violence plaguing their communities. Every day, we nurture leadership and life skills of young people affected by violence because addressing the root causes of violence saves lives.
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Our Teens on Target, Caught in the Crossfire, Khadafy Washington Project and the National Network are nationally recognized programs saving lives locally and across the country.
Send a personal message you care
"Give Back Night" for Khadafy Washington Project is December 18
Sometimes youth violence can feel overwhelming, but there are simple steps you can take today to make a difference.
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Youth ALIVE! needs volunteers to help write cards and assemble care packages to families in need after a homicide. Join us!

KWP Give Back Night
6-8pm, Tuesday, Dec 18th
at Youth ALIVE!'s office
3300 Elm Street, Oakland

Contact Dionne Carter at dcarter@youthalive.org or 510-228-9106 for more info on monthly Give Back Nights or providing meals and other support to families in need.

You can also get others involved by forwarding a friend this email.

Youth ALIVE! saves lives.

For more info, visit www.YouthALIVE.org

Youth ALIVE! saves lives

Monday, December 10, 2012

fire bomb

because right now i feel like im burning inside from all of these built up disappointments and reminders.

 I finally gathered the courage to meet with a cosmetic doctor, it left me very discouraged. Its times like those that make me think "why me?"

After flirting with the thought of cosmetic surgery for such a long time I finally decided to contact a plastic surgeon. I was referred to him by a beautiful woman who worked inside of Juvenile hall in Santa Clara, CA. She sat in on my presentation and approached me when i was done. She had alot of great things to say about this surgeon , so many that she totally convinced me to make him the chosen one.

Of course im only 22 and i work at a non profit while going to college while financially supporting my mom and family at the same time , that means i dont have tons of money like i would like to. So one thing ive learned in business is that you must use your resources. My colleagues encouraged me to see a doctor and to tell him my story. Hopefully it would be compelling enough to make him propose a good deal or even consider referring me to some good people in his network.

The consultation was in San Jose this morning. I left work a little early so i could make it to my long awaited appointment. The whole ride i listened to poetic songs with smooth instrumentals like goapele and lana del rey, songs like that get me thinking. "What am i going to say to this surgeon? What is he going to choose to do to my face? Will he be sensitive? Should i even go through surgery? What does it mean about me if i get cosmetic surgery?" Thoughts circled one after the other like a rotating CD. This was a big step for me.

I parked my car, looked at my face in the mirror ...took a deep breath and threw a spearmint gum in my mouth. I was nervous when i entered the clinic doors. Straight ahead was a big sign that had all of the suite numbers along with the names of the doctors. I found my destination and signed in.
My heart is beating; in front of me I see a couple of beautiful women in Marie Claire and Cosmo magazines . I picked one up and simultaneously thought  "i bet he has these here to encourage women to want to be like these models on the front cover"

The door opens and a woman says " Ca -Harry ? ". I get up immediately and again my heart starts racing. She directs me to an empty room and says that the doctor will be with me momentarily. This room looks like one of the many rooms in highland.

 I told him a little bit about how i work to prevent violence and impact many youth in my community and how surgery would help with my self esteem whenever i go out in public as a speaker. Our conversation was dry, It was very divorced from emotion. Which reminded me... this is just a business. I didnt compel him , and he didnt have any further resources for me. He said that this particular area in San Jose had a very little cosmetic/dentist community. I gave him a copy of my story and he was a little confused it seemed like. Then he patted me on my back and said "well good for you" and sent me on my way. LOL , in twitter this would be considered a big fat #FAIL.

I left with my heart pumping and my eyes watery. I realized it wasnt because i didnt get the response i wanted but because I found myself getting under-minded and belittled by a cosmetic surgeon when i shouldnt even be going to a fucking cosmetic surgeon at 22 years young in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried to hold my tears back as i drove away from the stupid clinic. It was a very long drive from San Jose back to my office in Oakland. I had a lot of time to evaluate my thoughts but the thought of "why me" over lapped everything else. My experience was disappointing, but it doesnt mean that i should give up. I now have more time to look and stare at myself in the mirror and wonder if i should pursue this again.

Its 5:25pm and im feeling very blue and depressed. I think i will go and play volleyball tonight.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

yes we CAN

It was during the holiday season when I was shot and was hospitalized ( November 20 2008) , it was Thanksgiving the holiday that my family depressingly celebrated in the ICU department at highland hospital. Even though heavily sedated I was able to acknowledge that it was Thanksgiving and for my mom, brother or sister it was just another emotionally heavy day of  " Caheri" duty. 

Families are suffering from deaths and violent injuries , actually more in the holiday season than ever. Imagine the poor families who just lost a son or daughter or the families that will continue to suffer as the holidays approach. Folks who are dealing with issues such as these lack motivation or a sense of drive, lets light up their spirits by donating a can of food (non perishable)!

I know that personally coming from a low income family Thanksgiving is more of a hard project than a holiday. With insufficient funds and roiling spirits families might very easily turn away from this opportunity to share relation and appreciation with one another. I dont have to say more because i know many of yall feel me. Some of us are still living in the hood some of us have moved out but in the end we all come from that same place and we know the hardships.

 Be kind , you never know... you might help save a life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Please support me!

     Since my injury and hospitalization at Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA, my life has changed for the better. As a patient in the Intensive Care Unit and then the Transitional Care Unit, I received life-changing treatment from the hospital staff. Before I was shot in the face, I had a promising modeling career. Now disfigured, I felt I could never become anything in the world. It was during those times where I felt my depression at its peak. I was full of fear, anxiety and doubt.
That is, until I started developing relationships with the surgeons, doctors and nurses at Highland. I remember the day I was enlightened. I was alone in my hospital room, I had a pink makeup mirror in my hand and I was staring at my face with disbelief, anger and disgust. My nurse Mohammed came into my room. He looked at the mirror and looked at my facial expression and speed-walked to my bedside. He snatched that mirror away from my hand and closed it. He looked me in the eye and said "Listen my dear, things have changed a little, you are now different in a better way." He told me that it was time to forget about this (he pointed at my face) and then he said "and now it is time to work on this," and pointed to my head. He told me that beauty only takes you so far and that, ultimately, it was your education that helps you prevail in life. I didn't say a thing, but I soaked up every single word that came out of his mouth. From then on I was hopeful and inspired. I wanted to be just like him. I took advantage of the time I had with my doctors, nurses, respiratory and physical therapist's to ask them how and why they became health care providers. I asked about schooling and about their personal connection to the work. Their stories were very inspiring. As I recuperated, I knew more and more that this was the field I wanted to get into. 

I am now a student in the Peralta Colleges, studying to become a nurse. I am about a year and a half away from applying to the nursing program at Cal State East Bay. (I would love to hear about any other great nursing schools that any of you might have in mind!) My educational goals are to receive my Nursing Degree and then to attend Cal's School Of Public Health. My personal experience as a patient will make me a phenomenal nurse. I know how a patient wants and needs to be treated, with all of the care, patience, honesty and sensitivity that my health care providers gave me. My experience at Highland gave me confidence and generated momentum in me. I am working hard to make those goals a reality.

I am the first in my family to graduate from high school and to attend college. Currently, I support myself and my family as a full-time violence prevention educator working with middle and high school students in Oakland. I also regularly give talks to groups about my life, my injury and my recovery. 

As many of you know ...school has it's cost's and without my family's help I am the only one paying for all of my college expenses. I am writing you wholeheartedly to support me in my academic goals. It cost anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 per semester to attend community college. If given I would spend the money on my classes, books,a tutor, a laptop, and project expenses. As a Violence Prevention Educator and a  public speaker, I am willing to help you in anyway that I can, if the occasion arises. If you would like a reference or speak to me personally you can contact me at caherigutierrez@gmail.com